Monday, June 25, 2018

A few Comments on May New Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 6/25/2018 12:34:00 PM

New home sales for May were reported at 689,000 on a seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR). This was above the consensus forecast, however the three previous months. combined, were revised down.

Sales in May were up 14.1% year-over-year compared to May 2017.   This was strong YoY growth, however, this was also a fairly easy comparison since new home sales were soft in mid-year 2017.

Earlier: New Home Sales increase to 689,000 Annual Rate in May.

New Home Sales 2016 2017Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows new home sales for 2017 and 2018 by month (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).

Sales are up 8.8% through May compared to the same period in 2017. Decent growth so far, and the next three months will also be an easy comparison to 2017.

This is on track to be close to my forecast for 2018 of 650 thousand new home sales for the year; an increase of about 6% over 2017.   There are downside risks to that forecast, such as higher mortgage rates, higher costs (labor and material), and possible policy errors.

And here is another update to the "distressing gap" graph that I first started posting a number of years ago to show the emerging gap caused by distressed sales.  Now I'm looking for the gap to close over the next several years.

Distressing GapThe "distressing gap" graph shows existing home sales (left axis) and new home sales (right axis) through May 2018. This graph starts in 1994, but the relationship had been fairly steady back to the '60s.

Following the housing bubble and bust, the "distressing gap" appeared mostly because of distressed sales.   The gap has persisted even though distressed sales are down significantly, since new home builders focused on more expensive homes.

I expect existing home sales to move more sideways, and I expect this gap to slowly close, mostly from an increase in new home sales.

However, this assumes that the builders will offer some smaller, less expensive homes. If not, then the gap will persist.

Distressing GapAnother way to look at this is a ratio of existing to new home sales.

This ratio was fairly stable from 1994 through 2006, and then the flood of distressed sales kept the number of existing home sales elevated and depressed new home sales. (Note: This ratio was fairly stable back to the early '70s, but I only have annual data for the earlier years).

In general the ratio has been trending down since the housing bust, and this ratio will probably continue to trend down over the next several years.

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.