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Friday, December 14, 2012

Lawler: Very Early Read on Existing Home Sales in November

by Calculated Risk on 12/14/2012 04:38:00 PM

From economist Tom Lawler:

While I normally wait for more data than I have before giving an “early read” on existing home sales, I’ve seen enough data to report that I expect a “healthy” gain in existing home sales in November, as estimated by the National Association of Realtors. Despite a significant decline in foreclosure sales from a year ago, overall existing home sales last month appear to have increased significantly from a year ago – implying, over of course, a sizable YOY increase in non-foreclosure sales. Based on the admittedly limited number of reports I’ve seen, I estimate that existing home sales as measured by the NAR ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million, up 5.4% from October’s pace.

On the median home sales front, the vast bulk of local realtor/MLS report showed noticeable YOY gain in median home sales prices in November, with several showing sizable gains – in large part because of significantly lower foreclosure/distressed sales shares, but also because, well, “typical” home prices were higher. Net, I expect the NAR’s median SF home sales price will show a YOY increase of around 11%.

Finally, my “best guess” for the NAR’x measure of the inventory of existing homes for sale is that November’s number will be down about 4.5% from October, and down about 22.1% from a year ago. The NAR’s inventory measure, however, often doesn’t track regional listings numbers. Moreover, of late there have been unusually large (and unexplained, even when asked) revisions (e.g., September’s preliminary inventory number was revised downward by an astonishingly large 6.5% in the October report.)

CR Note: The NAR will report November existing home sales on Thursday, Dec 20th. The consensus is the NAR will report sales of 4.85 million.

Based on Lawler's estimates, the NAR will report inventory around 2.05 million units for November, and months-of-supply might be under 5 months. This would be the lowest level of inventory in over 10 years, and the lowest months-of-supply since 2005.