Saturday, October 17, 2015

Existing Home Sales: Lawler vs. the Consensus

by Bill McBride on 10/17/2015 04:01:00 PM

The NAR will report September Existing Home Sales on Thursday, October 22nd at 10:00 AM.

The consensus, according to Bloomberg, is that the NAR will report sales of 5.35 million. Housing economist Tom Lawler estimates the NAR will report sales of 5.56 million on a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) basis, up from 5.31 million SAAR in August.

Housing economist Tom Lawler has been sending me his predictions of what the NAR will report for over 5 years.  The table below shows the consensus for each month, Lawler's predictions, and the NAR's initial reported level of sales. 

Lawler hasn't always been closer than the consensus, but usually when there has been a fairly large spread between Lawler's estimate and the "consensus", Lawler has been closer.

NOTE: There have been times when Lawler "missed", but then he pointed out an apparent error in the NAR data - and the subsequent revision corrected that error.  As an example, see: The “Curious Case” of Existing Home Sales in the South in April

Over the last five years, the consensus average miss was 146 thousand with a standard deviation of 150 thousand.  Lawler's average miss was 69 thousand with a standard deviation of 50 thousand.

NOTE:  Last month was Lawler's largest miss by 0.23 million SAAR  (read his explanation here).  For comparison, the consensus' largest miss was 0.83 million.  Ouch.

Many analysts now change their "forecast" after Lawler's estimate is posted, so the consensus has improved a little recently!

Existing Home Sales, Forecasts and NAR Report
millions, seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR)
MonthConsensusLawlerNAR reported1
May-106.205.835.66
Jun-105.305.305.37
Jul-104.663.953.83
Aug-104.104.104.13
Sep-104.304.504.53
Oct-104.504.464.43
Nov-104.854.614.68
Dec-104.905.135.28
Jan-115.205.175.36
Feb-115.155.004.88
Mar-115.005.085.10
Apr-115.205.155.05
May-114.754.804.81
Jun-114.904.714.77
Jul-114.924.694.67
Aug-114.754.925.03
Sep-114.934.834.91
Oct-114.804.864.97
Nov-115.084.404.42
Dec-114.604.644.61
Jan-124.694.664.57
Feb-124.614.634.59
Mar-124.624.594.48
Apr-124.664.534.62
May-124.574.664.55
Jun-124.654.564.37
Jul-124.504.474.47
Aug-124.554.874.82
Sep-124.754.704.75
Oct-124.744.844.79
Nov-124.905.105.04
Dec-125.104.974.94
Jan-134.904.944.92
Feb-135.014.874.98
Mar-135.034.894.92
Apr-134.925.034.97
May-135.005.205.18
Jun-135.274.995.08
Jul-135.135.335.39
Aug-135.255.355.48
Sep-135.305.265.29
Oct-135.135.085.12
Nov-135.024.984.90
Dec-134.904.964.87
Jan-144.704.674.62
Feb-144.644.604.60
Mar-144.564.644.59
Apr-144.674.704.65
May-144.754.814.89
Jun-144.994.965.04
Jul-145.005.095.15
Aug-145.185.125.05
Sep-145.095.145.17
Oct-145.155.285.26
Nov-145.204.904.93
Dec-145.055.155.04
Jan-155.004.904.82
Feb-154.944.874.88
Mar-155.045.185.19
Apr-155.225.205.04
May-155.255.295.35
Jun-155.405.455.49
Jul-155.415.645.59
Aug-155.505.545.31
Sep-155.355.56---
1NAR initially reported before revisions.