Monday, January 21, 2019

Existing Home Sales for December: Take the Under

by Bill McBride on 1/21/2019 08:31:00 AM

The NAR is scheduled to release Existing Home Sales for December at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, January 22nd.

The consensus is for 5.24 million SAAR, down from 5.32 million in November. Housing economist Tom Lawler estimates the NAR will reports sales of 4.97 million SAAR for December and that inventory will be up 5.5% year-over-year. Based on Lawler's estimate, I expect existing home sales to be well below the consensus for December.

Housing economist Tom Lawler has been sending me his predictions of what the NAR will report for almost 9 years.  The table below shows the consensus for each month, Lawler's predictions, and the NAR's initially reported level of sales. 

Lawler hasn't always been closer than the consensus, but usually when there has been a fairly large spread between Lawler's estimate and the "consensus", Lawler has been closer.

Last month, in November 2018, the consensus was for sales of 5.19 million on a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) basis. Lawler estimated the NAR would report 5.23 million, and the NAR reported 5.32 million (as usual Lawler was closer than the consensus).

NOTE: There have been times when Lawler "missed", but then he pointed out an apparent error in the NAR data - and the subsequent revision corrected that error.  As an example, see: The “Curious Case” of Existing Home Sales in the South in April

Over the last eight plus years, the consensus average miss was 143 thousand, and  Lawler's average miss was 67 thousand.

Existing Home Sales, Forecasts and NAR Report
millions, seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR)
MonthConsensusLawlerNAR reported1
May-106.205.835.66
Jun-105.305.305.37
Jul-104.663.953.83
Aug-104.104.104.13
Sep-104.304.504.53
Oct-104.504.464.43
Nov-104.854.614.68
Dec-104.905.135.28
Jan-115.205.175.36
Feb-115.155.004.88
Mar-115.005.085.10
Apr-115.205.155.05
May-114.754.804.81
Jun-114.904.714.77
Jul-114.924.694.67
Aug-114.754.925.03
Sep-114.934.834.91
Oct-114.804.864.97
Nov-115.084.404.42
Dec-114.604.644.61
Jan-124.694.664.57
Feb-124.614.634.59
Mar-124.624.594.48
Apr-124.664.534.62
May-124.574.664.55
Jun-124.654.564.37
Jul-124.504.474.47
Aug-124.554.874.82
Sep-124.754.704.75
Oct-124.744.844.79
Nov-124.905.105.04
Dec-125.104.974.94
Jan-134.904.944.92
Feb-135.014.874.98
Mar-135.034.894.92
Apr-134.925.034.97
May-135.005.205.18
Jun-135.274.995.08
Jul-135.135.335.39
Aug-135.255.355.48
Sep-135.305.265.29
Oct-135.135.085.12
Nov-135.024.984.90
Dec-134.904.964.87
Jan-144.704.674.62
Feb-144.644.604.60
Mar-144.564.644.59
Apr-144.674.704.65
May-144.754.814.89
Jun-144.994.965.04
Jul-145.005.095.15
Aug-145.185.125.05
Sep-145.095.145.17
Oct-145.155.285.26
Nov-145.204.904.93
Dec-145.055.155.04
Jan-155.004.904.82
Feb-154.944.874.88
Mar-155.045.185.19
Apr-155.225.205.04
May-155.255.295.35
Jun-155.405.455.49
Jul-155.415.645.59
Aug-155.505.545.31
Sep-155.355.565.55
Oct-155.415.335.36
Nov-155.324.974.76
Dec-155.195.365.46
Jan-165.325.365.47
Feb-165.305.205.08
Mar-165.275.275.33
Apr-165.405.445.45
May-165.645.555.53
Jun-165.485.625.57
Jul-165.525.415.39
Aug-165.445.495.33
Sep-165.355.555.47
Oct-165.445.475.60
Nov-165.545.605.61
Dec-165.545.555.49
Jan-175.555.605.69
Feb-175.555.415.48
Mar-175.615.745.71
Apr-175.675.565.57
May-175.555.655.62
Jun-175.585.595.52
Jul-175.575.385.44
Aug-175.485.395.35
Sep-175.305.385.39
Oct-175.305.605.48
Nov-175.525.775.81
Dec-175.755.665.57
Jan-185.655.485.38
Feb-185.425.445.54
Mar-185.285.515.60
Apr-185.605.485.46
May-185.565.475.43
Jun-185.455.355.38
Jul-185.435.405.34
Aug-185.365.365.34
Sep-185.305.205.15
Oct-185.205.315.22
Nov-185.195.235.32
Dec-185.244.97---
1NAR initially reported before revisions.