Thursday, September 08, 2011

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in August

by Calculated Risk on 9/08/2011 07:55:00 PM

From economist Tom Lawler: While normally I don’t put out an “early read” on existing home sales this early – mainly because not enough realtor associations/boards/MLS have released their stats to get a “good” national read – the reports that have come in so far suggest to me that existing home sales in August rebounded from July on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Last August the NAR estimated that existing home sales ran at a SAAR of 4.24 million. This August, of course, there was one more business day than last August, and this month’s seasonal factor will probably be 1.5%-2.0% higher than last August’s. The NAR estimated that July existing home sales – which came in south of “consensus,” and below what past pending home sales indices would have suggested (though it was right on top of my regional tracking) – ran at a SAAR of 4.67 million. A “flat” reading for seasonally adjusted existing home sales for August, then, would imply a YOY gain in NSA sales in the 11.8% to 12.3% range.

Incoming data, in my view, suggest a national YOY gain well above that – probably in the 16.8% range or so, which would imply that the NAR’s existing home sales estimate for August will probably come in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of around 4.87 million, a gain from July of about 4.3%, and I think there may be more upside than downside risk to that forecast.

Existing and Pending Home Sales Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

Such an increase, by the way, is not broadly inconsistent with the latest pending home sales index, which showed a mild decline in July. After all, the gains in previous months didn’t show up in similar gains in closed sales, suggesting either (a) increased cancellations; (b) increased delays from contract to closing; or (c) a combination of both. Right now, the correct answer appears to be “c.” (August reflects Lawler forecast).