In Depth Analysis: CalculatedRisk Newsletter on Real Estate (Ad Free) Read it here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lawler: Early Read on January Existing Home Sales

by Calculated Risk on 2/16/2011 04:15:00 PM

From economist Tom Lawler:

Based on my regional tracking so far, I estimate that existing home sales (using the NAR’s methodology) ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 5.17 million in January, down 2.1% from December’s pace. While such an estimate seems low given the previous few month’s gains in the pending home sales index, that’s what I get with the data released so far by local MLS/realtors.

On the inventory front, I’m still bummed that my previous source of state listings ( no longer updates that data, so I’ve been looking around at other data sources, as well as listings reported by local MLS. For some reason I’ve noted that the data of many of the widely followed public “trackers” of listings in select metro areas do not “foot” with local MLS reports, so that’s been a pain. Looking at everything I could, however, including data on listings in local MLS/realtor association monthly reports, I estimate that existing home inventories in January were down by about 0.8 to 0.9% from December.
CR notes:
• This would put the months-of-supply in the low 8 months range, probably up slightly from the 8.1 months reported in December. However the decline in inventory is seasonal, and inventory should increase again in February. The months-of-supply metric uses seasonally adjusted (SA) sales, and not seasonally adjusted (NSA) inventory - and I expect the months-of-supply metric to increase in the coming months (impacting house prices).

• Along with the release of January existing home sales on February 23rd, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release revisions for the past three years (2008 through 2010). This is the ordinary annual revision, and the revisions will probably be minor.

• I believe the NAR is working on benchmarking existing home sales for previous years with other industry data. There is no planned release date for these possible revisions - if any are announced. I expect this to be completed sometime after mid-year, and I expect this effort will lead to significant downward revisions to previously reported sales (and probably inventory).