Thursday, May 10, 2007

US Home Sales

I got a few moments today and I couldn't resist doing this cheap post. To check the in depth original here.

From John Burns Consulting - Message to Fed: Housing is Falling Much Faster than Reported

The housing market has softened much more than is being reported. We have been advising our retainer clients for more than one year about misleading national sales information, both with the Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales data. We are now going public with our concerns because we are concerned that policy makers are relying on national data to conclude that the housing market correction has not been severe.

Here is our support:

Closing Data: We purchase and compile actual home closing data for approximately 181 counties across the country, which captures the counties where about 55% of the U.S. population lives and a significant percentage of all of the counties where the large home builders are active. This data shows that sales have fallen 22% if you compare sales over the last 12 months to the prior 12 months. On a straight year over year comparison, the decline is much more.

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Data: The MBA Seasonally Adjusted Purchase Application Index, which is a measure of the number of people filling out loan applications to buy a home, is down 18% from its peak in September 2005.1 With presumably more applications being filled out by borrowers who now have to shop around for a loan, how could sales have fallen by less than 18%?

Builder Data: The nation's two largest homebuilders, D.R. Horton and Lennar, are reporting that orders have declined 27% to 37%, year-over-year. 2 3 D.R. Horton and Lennar have dropped prices significantly in many markets to generate sales, while the resale market has not. How could their sales have fallen more than the resale market, even if new home communities tend to be in fringe areas?

Realogy Corporation Data: Realogy, which is the parent company of Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA, participated in roughly 1.9 million brokerage related transactions in 2006 compared to 2.3 million in 2005, representing a year-over-year decline of 18% nationwide.4
2005-2006 NAR State Data: The National Association of Realtors state data does show sharp year-over-year corrections in major states: 28% drop in Florida, 24% drop in California, and a 28% drop in Arizona. Our data, however, shows the sales have probably dropped by 34%, 27% and 38%, respectively. The national numbers include some large states where sales volumes have not corrected substantially, such as in Texas and Ohio, but we believe these markets are not very healthy for other reasons. Interestingly, our calculations were tracking very closely with NAR data through 2005, as illustrated above. We did investigate NAR methodology and have found absolutely no reason to believe that the NAR is intentionally misleading anyone, as some have suggested.

New Home Data: The Census Bureau calculation of new home data does not calculate sales net of cancellations, and cancellations are running much higher than normal right now, which is why the sales numbers overestimate actual sales.

The preponderance of evidence shows that the housing market in vibrant areas where home building is prevalent has corrected much more than some people believe it has.

In summary, we believe that the Fed should know that the housing market correction has been quite steep and is also not showing signs of bottoming out, as evidenced by all of the above information, as well as significant additional research we have conducted. While the Fed has far more to consider than housing, they should know that the housing market could sure use some lower interest rates to help achieve stability soon.


patriotz said...

While the Fed has far more to consider than housing, they should know that the housing market could sure use some lower interest rates to help achieve stability soon.

Well they were doing OK until the last sentence.

The problem with the US housing market is that there is simply too much supply, and nowhere near enough buyers for it, because prices are too damned high. Lower interest rates would not change this - even if the Fed had the leeway to lower them, which it doesn't.

The fact is that the US housing bubble has caused severe distortions to the US economy, and if anything the Fed should have acted to bring it to an end sooner, and not, God forbid, try to prolong it.

The US housing market will stabilize when real prices return to historical levels. Like all other bubbles.

Inwonderment said...

According to a PBS TV show last night house prices continue to rise in Seattle, much like Vancouver. Any thoughts on what is driving this difference for these two regions, I can't see how it can last.

patriotz said...

They are behind the curve, that's all. They'll run out of GF's soon enough and prices will start dropping like everywhere else.