Monday, November 21, 2011

Existing Home Sales: More on Inventory and NSA Sales Graph

by Calculated Risk on 11/21/2011 12:56:00 PM

Yesterday I discussed the expected downward revisions to the NAR estimates for sales and inventory. The NAR didn't provide any update on the benchmark revision process in the release today. I expect sales and inventory estimates to be revised down by 10% to 15% for the current year - and less in earlier years - probably about 2% or so in 2006 or 2007.

The NAR reported inventory fell to 3.33 million in October, but if my guess is correct, inventory will be adjusted to something in the 2.85 to 3.0 million range after the benchmark revision. This is close to the same level as in October 2005 (with listed inventory at 2.87 million units).

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

This graph shows inventory by month since 2004. In 2004 (black line), inventory was fairly flat and declined at the end of the year. In 2005 (dark blue line), inventory kept rising all year - and that was a clear sign that the housing bubble was ending.

This year (dark red) inventory is at the lowest level since 2005. And with the coming revisions correcting the "drift" in the reported data (both sales and inventory were too high for the last few years), the red line will probably be close to the 2005 (blue) line. Inventory will still be elevated - especially with the much lower sales rate - but this will put less downward pressure on house prices (of course the level of distressed properties is still very high, and there is a significant shadow inventory).

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

Existing Home Sales NSAThe red columns are for 2011.

Sales NSA are above last October when sales declined sharply following the expiration of the tax credit in June 2010. Sales are close to the October 2008 level, but will be lower after the benchmark revision is released.

The level of sales is still elevated due to investor buying. The NAR noted:

All-cash sales accounted for 29 percent of purchases in October, little changed from 30 percent in September and 29 percent in October 2010; investors make up the bulk of cash transactions.

Investors purchased 18 percent of homes in October, compared with 19 percent in September and 19 percent in October 2010.
Earlier:
Existing Home Sales in October: 4.97 million SAAR, 8.0 months of supply
Existing Home Sales graphs