Thursday, January 25, 2018

A few Comments on December New Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 1/25/2018 12:34:00 PM

New home sales for December were reported at 625,000 on a seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR). This was well below the consensus forecast, and the three previous months were revised down significantly.

On an annual basis, sales were up 8.3% in 2017 compared to 2016.  This was a solid year-over-year gain. Here is a table of new home sales since the bubble peak in 2005.

New Home Sales (000s)
  New Home
Sales
Change
20051,283---
20061,051-18.1%
2007776-26.2%
2008485-37.5%
2009375-22.7%
2010323-13.9%
2011306-5.3%
201236820.3%
201342916.6%
20144371.9%
201550114.7%
201656112.0%
20176088.3%

Sales were up 14.1% year-over-year in December.

Earlier: New Home Sales decrease to 625,000 Annual Rate in December.

New Home Sales 2016 2017Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows new home sales for 2016 and 2017 by month (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).

For 2017, new home sales are up 8.3% compared to 2016.

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 December 2017. 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.   The gap has persisted even though distressed sales are down significantly, since new home builders focused on more expensive homes.

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 since the housing bust, 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.