Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in January

by Calculated Risk on 2/19/2020 11:00:00 AM

From housing economist Tom Lawler:

Based on publicly-available local realtor/MLS reports released across the country through today, I project that existing home sales as estimated by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.42 million in January, down 2.2% from December’s preliminary pace (which looks too high) and up 9.9% from last January’s seasonally adjusted pace.

On the inventory front, local realtor/MLS data, as well as data from other inventory trackers, suggest that the inventory of existing homes for sale at the end of January was down by about 12.0% from a year earlier.

Finally, local realtor/MLS data suggest that the median US existing single-family home sales price last month was up by about 7.0% from last January.

Note that this month’s release will incorporate benchmark seasonal adjustment revisions, which makes it a little tricky to estimate January’s seasonal adjustment factor.

Last month the National Association of Realtors estimated that existing home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million, well above consensus estimates and, surprisingly, well above my estimate based on local realtor/MLS reports released before the NAR report. In looking at realtor/MLS reports released later than those available when I do my “early read,” it does appear as if my earlier sample did not reflect overall national sales. However, it also appears as if the NAR’s estimate overstated sales in the Midwest and the Northeast. If I had had access to all realtor/MLS reports for December sales I would have projected that existing home sales as estimated by the NAR ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.50 million.

CR Note: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is scheduled to release January existing home sales on Friday, February 21, 2020 at 10:00 AM ET. The consensus is for 5.45 million SAAR.