Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Comments on April New Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 5/24/2016 12:41:00 PM

The new home sales report for April was very strong at 619,000 on a seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR), and combined sales for January, February and March were revised up by 44 thousand SAAR.

This was the highest sales rate since January 2008.

Sales were up 23.8% year-over-year (YoY) compared to April 2015. And sales are up 9.0% year-to-date compared to the same period in 2015.

Earlier: New Home Sales increased sharply to 619,000 Annual Rate in April.


New Home Sales 2015 2016Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows new home sales for 2015 and 2016 by month (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).  Sales to date are up 9.0% year-over-year, mostly because of the strong sales in April.

Overall  I expect lower growth this year, probably in the 4% to 8% range.  Slower growth is likely this year because Houston (and other oil producing areas) will have a problem this year. Inventory of existing homes is increasing quickly and prices will probably decline in those areas. And that means new home construction will slow in those areas too.

And here is another update to the "distressing gap" graph that I first started posting a number of years ago to show the emerging gap caused by distressed sales.  Now I'm looking for the gap to close over the next several years.

Distressing GapThe "distressing gap" graph shows existing home sales (left axis) and new home sales (right axis) through April 2016. This graph starts in 1994, but the relationship had been fairly steady back to the '60s.

Following the housing bubble and bust, the "distressing gap" appeared mostly because of distressed sales.

I expect existing home sales to move more sideways, and I expect this gap to slowly close, mostly from an increase in new home sales.

However, this assumes that the builders will offer some smaller, less expensive homes. If not, then the gap will persist.

Distressing GapAnother way to look at this is a ratio of existing to new home sales.

This ratio was fairly stable from 1994 through 2006, and then the flood of distressed sales kept the number of existing home sales elevated and depressed new home sales. (Note: This ratio was fairly stable back to the early '70s, but I only have annual data for the earlier years).

In general the ratio has been trending down, and this ratio will probably continue to trend down over the next several years.

Note: Existing home sales are counted when transactions are closed, and new home sales are counted when contracts are signed. So the timing of sales is different.