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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lawler: Early Read on September Existing Home Sales

by Calculated Risk on 10/16/2012 05:04:00 PM

From economist Tom Lawler:

While I’m missing reports from several key areas of the country, realtor/MLS data I’ve seen so far suggest to me that existing home sales as measured by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 4.70 million in September, down 2.5% from August’s pace but up 9.8% from last September’s pace. At first glance the unadjusted reports suggest a much steeper slowdown in September sales than the above numbers suggest, as YOY sales growth in September was significantly lower than in August in most (though not all markets), and the number of areas seeing a decline in sales from a year ago increased noticeably. This September, however, there were two fewer business days than last September, and this September’s seasonal factor will be materially lower than last September’s (meaning the YOY increase in seasonally adjusted sales will be materially higher than the YOY increase in unadjusted sales).

On the inventory front, there is little doubt that there were fewer homes listed for sale nationally at the end of September than at the end of August. How that will translate into the NAR’s inventory estimate, however, is unclear. Based on very limited historical data comparing the NAR’s numbers (which are “consistently” derived only going back to 2007), to other sources of home listings, I “gueestimate” that the NAR will report a monthly decline in the inventory of existing homes for sale of about 3.2% in September, which would be inventories down about 17.6% from last September.

On the median home sales price front, the NAR’s estimates of late have significantly exceeded my estimates using a “weighted-sales” approach, but my “best guess” is that the NAR will report that the national median existing home sales price in September was up about 10.4% from last September.

CR Note: Based on Lawler's estimates, the NAR will report inventory around 2.39 million units for September, and months-of-supply will be around 6.1 months (unchanged from August). This will be the lowest level of inventory for September since 2004. The consensus is the NAR will report sales of 4.75 million on Friday.