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Monday, October 27, 2008

New Home Sales: Annual and Through September

by Calculated Risk on 10/27/2008 01:17:00 PM

New home sales in 2008 might be at the lowest level since 1982. However adjusted for changes in owner occupied units, the current year is the worst on record.

The following graph shows both annual new home sales (from the Census Bureau) and sales through September.

New Home Sales Annual Click on graph for larger image in new window.

In 2008, sales through September (before revisions) have totaled 402 thousand. This is slightly ahead of the pace in 1991 (391 thousand sales through September).

However sales have slowed in the 2nd half of 2008, and it appears that annual sales might be below the 509 thousand in 1991. It will probably be close, but if sales are below the 1991 level, this would mean sales would be the lowest since 1982 (412 thousand).

Of course the U.S. population and the number of households were much lower in 1982. In 1982 there were 54.2 million owner occupied units in the U.S., in 1991 there were 61.0 million, and there are approximately 76 million today.

If we use a ratio of owner occupied units to compare periods, the low in 1982 was 412 thousand X (76/54.2) = 578 thousand units (based on the number of owner occupied units today).

The calculation for 1991 gives 634 thousand units (to compare to today).

By this measure, 2008 is the worst year for new home sales since the Census Bureau started tracking new home sales (starting in 1963).