Existing Home Sales: The Real Numbers Are Much Worse Than Reported

To start, please reserve any judgement on the Census Bureau’s new home sales report released yesterday (Thursday, 9/24), which showed an absurd bounce in new home sales during August.  The numbers compiled and statistically manipulated to by the Census Bureau diverged significantly from any private-sector reported data, like mortgage applications and the actual reported results of homebuilders.  I’ll get this matter in the near future.

The existing home sales report released earlier in the week showed that existing home sales expressed in terms of the National Association’s statistically manipulated “seasonally adjusted annualize rate” dropped 5% from August.  (As an aside, it is thoroughly retarded to take a monthly report and project an annualized rate for that month.  It would be much “cleaner” and accurate to take the already suspect seaonally adjusted  monthly number and leave it at that to be used for month to month and year over year comparisons).

However, analyzing the de-seasonally adjusted and unannualized numbers, which are provided by the NAR but about which no one discusses, shows that the decline in August existing home sales was significantly worse than than the numbers reported by the headline and made love to by Lawrence Yun, the NAR chief “economist.”

I wrote a piece for Seeking Alpha in which is tore apart the NAR report and laid out an analysis which shows that the month to month drop was much more severe.  Moreover, the year over year comp is an easy comp because higher rates in 2014 caused a drop from 2013.  However rates trended toward all-time lows again in the spring of 2015, which gave home sales another temporary boost – possibly its last boost.

You can read my article here:   August Existing Home Sales Drop 3 Times Faster Than Expected.

I’ll be generating a lot more work on the housing market now because I believe that $2 trillion in stimulus thrown at housing by the Fed has run its course.  The market is going to become illiquid and there’s a lot trends developing that are NOT being publicized by the mainstream or financial media.  For instance, foreclosures are on the rise again, increasing 7% in July  to a 30-month high.  Also, “flipper” activity, which drove a meaningful portion of the sales numbers in the first half of 2015, is quickly receding, falling to 4.5% of all single family home sales in Q2 2015 and “days to flip” hit an 8-year high.

The truth will set you free…


4 thoughts on “Existing Home Sales: The Real Numbers Are Much Worse Than Reported

  1. Builders are skating on thin ice because they have bought into this “recovery” hook line and sinker. Just take a look at lumber prices, and you know there is more to the story than the sell-side media is reporting. I just negotiated a 17 percent discount for a buyer here in Katy (West Houston), and I was able to do it because the buyer was patient and the builder needed to write a contract.
    I am amazed that anyone would build from scratch in this environment because you are virtually guaranteed to overpay for a house if you feel that you have to have it your way. You are much better off if you wait for the builders to put a spec on the ground and develop some motivation.
    Lennar, the largest builder in our area by volume saw their new orders drop 12 percent in Q3 because management has apparently tried to hold the line on those inflated prices. In the last conversation I had with one of their area sales reps, I told her that her boss was doing her no favors. Must be a rough position to be in…trying to lure the next lemming into buying home that is blatantly overpriced.

  2. Excellent article. I buy properties and sell them and I just got stuck with 2. I offloaded them for a very low amount, extremely low. I saw it as the SP was diving, everything dried up.

  3. I agree, (mis)management of perception economics is as overated as will any perfunctory response to the budget and debt ceiling deadlines month-end and mid-October.

    Like Washington, the The Fed also mangles it’s command performance.

    Yes we will raise interest rates.
    Why would we leave them to the fates?
    No one can say we were joking.
    Our track record is hot, smoking.
    We promise you no more long waits.

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