Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Few Comments on October Existing Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 11/21/2017 12:43:00 PM

Earlier: NAR: "Existing-Home Sales Grow 2.0 Percent in October"

My view is a sales rate of 5.48 million is solid. In fact, I'd consider any existing home sales rate in the 5 to 5.5 million range solid based on the normal historical turnover of the existing stock. As always, it is important to remember that new home sales are more important for jobs and the economy than existing home sales. Since existing sales are existing stock, the only direct contribution to GDP is the broker's commission. There is usually some additional spending with an existing home purchase - new furniture, etc. - but overall the economic impact is small compared to a new home sale.

Inventory is still very low and falling year-over-year (down 10.4% year-over-year in October). Inventory has declined year-over-year for 29 consecutive months.  I started the year expecting inventory would be increasing year-over-year by the end of 2017. However it looks like 2017 will be another year of declining inventory.

Inventory is a key metric to watch.  More inventory would probably mean smaller price increases, and less inventory somewhat larger price increases.

The following graph shows existing home sales Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA).

Existing Home Sales NSAClick on graph for larger image.

Sales NSA in October (458,000, red column) were above sales in  October 2016 (445,000, NSA) and at the highest level for October since 2006.

Sales NSA are now slowing seasonally, and sales NSA will be lower through February.