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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in January

by Calculated Risk on 2/17/2021 04:29:00 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 6.48 million in January, down 4.1% from December’s preliminary pace and up 19.6% from last January’s seasonally adjusted pace. Unadjusted sales should show a smaller YOY gain, reflecting this January’s lower business day count relative to last January’s.

Local realtor reports, as well as reports from national inventory trackers, suggest that the YOY decline in the inventory of existing homes for sale was larger in January than in December, though what that means for the NAR inventory estimate is unclear. As I’ve noted before, the inventory measure in most publicly-released local realtor/MLS reports excludes listings with pending contracts, but that is not the case for many of the reports sent to the NAR (referred to as the “NAR Report!”), Since the middle of last Spring inventory measures excluding pending listings have fallen much more sharply than inventory measures including such listings, and this latter inventory measure understates the decline in the effective inventory of homes for sale over the last several months.

Finally, local realtor/MLS reports suggest the median existing single-family home sales price last month was up by about 13.7% from last January.

(Note that this month’s EHS report will include benchmark seasonal adjustment revisions.)

CR Note: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is scheduled to release January existing home sales on Friday, February 19, 2021 at 10:00 AM ET. The consensus is for 6.60 million SAAR.