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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in March

by Calculated Risk on 4/15/2014 04:39:00 PM

From housing economist Tom Lawler:

Based on realtor association/board/MLS reports from across the country, I estimate that US existing home sales as measured by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.64 million in March, up 0.9% from February’s preliminary pace, but down 6.5% from last March’s seasonally adjusted pace. If my estimate is correct, then first-quarter existing home sales this year would be down 6.3% from the comparable quarter of 2013. Depending on the area of the country, weather, lower distressed sales, lower investor purchases, and weak demand from primary-residence purchases (especially from first-time buyers), the latter partly reflecting lower inventories of affordably-priced homes (even though overall inventories of homes for sale were higher), contributed to the “surprisingly” weak pace of sales last quarter.

On the inventory front, I estimate (based on realtor/MLS reports, as well as reports from entities tracking listings) that the inventory of existing homes for sale as measured by the NAR increased by 4.0% from February to March to 2.080 million, which would be up 7.8% from last March’s level.

Finally, my “best guess” based on realtor reports is that the NAR’s estimate of the median existing SF home sales price in March will be up 8.7% from last March.

CR Note: The NAR is scheduled to report March existing home sales on Tuesday, April 22nd.   Based on Lawler's estimates, months-of-supply increased to around 5.4 months in March - the highest level since mid-2012.