Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in February; Lawler "I doubt anyone really cares"

by Calculated Risk on 3/18/2020 01:50:00 PM

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 5.58 million in February , up 2.2% from January’s preliminary pace and up 3.7% from last February’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 February was down by about 12.3% 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 7.5% from last January.

There are a few things worth noting. First, of course, closed sales in February were not impacted by the current pandemic. Second, some realtor/MLS reports that I use for the “early read” have not yet been released. And finally, getting the seasonal adjustment “right” for February is tricky. 2020 is a leap year, and typically the February existing home sales seasonal factor is significantly higher in a leap year than in other years. However, this February’s “extra day” was on a weekend, and since not many home sales close on a weekend, the “leap year” effect on this February’s seasonal factor should be pretty modest.

CR Note: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is scheduled to release February existing home sales on Friday, March 20, 2020 at 10:00 AM ET. The consensus is for 5.50 million SAAR.