Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lawler: Early Look at Existing Home Sales in April

by Bill McBride on 5/17/2016 01:21:00 PM

From housing economist Tom Lawler:

Based on publicly-available state and local realtor/MLS reports released through today, I project that US existing home sales as estimated by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million in April, up 2.1% from March’s preliminary pace, and up 5.8% from last April’s seasonally adjusted pace. On the inventory front, national home listings typically show a sizable seasonal increase from March to April, and local realtor/MLS data suggest that was the case last month. However, these data suggest that this April’s increase was noticeable smaller than last April’s gain, and I project that the NAR’s estimate for the number of existing homes for sale at the end of April will be 2.10 million, up 6.1% from March’s preliminary estimate but down 5.4% from last April.

Finally, local/realtor/MLS data suggest that the NAR’s estimate of the median existing single-family home sales price in April will be up by about 6.0% from last April.

While home sales in most areas of the country last month were higher than last April, there were a few notable exceptions. For example, homes sales in both the Portland, Oregon area and in the Denver, Colorado area – which have been “hot” and where home prices have increased substantially over the past two years – were down from a year ago last month. In both areas the “months’ supply” of homes for sale has been incredibly low, and in both areas active listings increased sharply on the month, though from extremely low levels. Existing home sales were also down sharply from a year ago in the Bay Area of California, where prices have also increased sharply over the past few years and where the months’ supply of homes for sale has been extremely low. Realtors “blame” last month’s slow sales pace in these areas not simply to the low overall inventory of homes for sale, but mainly to the exceptionally low inventory levels of “affordable” homes for sale.

In Texas, the sizable divergence in sales trends by different areas continued, as residential sales in the “North Texas” area (which includes the Dallas-Fort Worth area) last month were up by over 14% YOY, while sales in the Houston area were down by almost 2% YOY.

CR Note: The NAR is scheduled to release April existing home sales on Friday, and the consensus is for 5.40 million SAAR.