Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in February

by Bill McBride on 3/16/2017 03:42:00 PM

From housing economist Tom Lawler

Based on state and local realtor/MLS reports from across the country 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 5.41 million in February, down 4.9% from January’s preliminary pace but up 4.0% from last February’s seasonally unadjusted pace. The YOY % gain in unadjusted sales for last month should be much lower than that for seasonally adjusted sales, reflecting this February’s lower business day count compared to last February (last year, of course, was a leap year).

On the inventory front, local realtor/MLS data suggest that the number of existing homes for sale last month increased from January to February by a bit more than was the case a year ago. By the same token, however, local realtor/MLS data – as well as data compiled by Realtor.com – suggest that the YOY decline in the inventory of homes for sale is greater than that implied by the NAR data, making a projection a little challenging. My “best guess” is that the NAR’s estimate for the number of existing homes for sale at the end of February will be 1.72 million, up 1.8% from January’s preliminary estimate (which should be revised downward), and down 8.0% from a year ago.

Finally, local realtor/MLS data suggest that the NAR’s estimate of the median existing SF home sales price for February should be about 7.2% from last February.

CR Note: The NAR is scheduled to release February existing home sales on Wednesday, March 22nd.