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Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Home Sales and Distressing Gap

by Calculated Risk on 12/27/2012 11:49:00 AM

New home sales have averaged 363,000 on an annual rate basis through November. That means sales are on pace to increase 18%+ from last year. Most sectors would be pretty happy with an 18% increase in sales.

But even with the significant increase this year, 2012 will be the 3rd lowest year for New Home sales since the Census Bureau started tracking new home sales in 1963. This year will be above 2010 and 2011, but below the 375,000 sales in 2009. I expect new home sales to double from here within the next several years as distressed sales continue to decline.

I started posting the following graph four years ago when the "distressing gap" first appeared.

The "distressing gap" graph shows existing home sales (left axis) and new home sales (right axis) through October. This graph starts in 1994, but the relationship has been fairly steady back to the '60s.

Distressing GapClick on graph for larger image.

Following the housing bubble and bust, the "distressing gap" appeared mostly because of distressed sales. The flood of distressed sales kept existing home sales elevated, and depressed new home sales since builders weren't able to compete with the low prices of all the foreclosed properties.

I don't expect much of an increase in existing home sales (distressed sales will slowly decline and be offset by more conventional sales). But I do expect this gap to close - mostly from an increase in new home sales.

Note: Existing home sales are counted when transactions are closed, and new home sales are counted when contracts are signed. So the timing of sales is different.

New Home Sales at 377,000 SAAR in November
New Home Sales graphs