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Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in April

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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 4.17 million in April, down 20.6% from March’s preliminary pace and down 20.1% from last April’s seasonally adjusted pace.I should note that this “earlier than normal” estimate is based on a smaller sample than my normal “early read.” In addition, there are huge differences in sales figures not just across states but within states, with much of the differences reflecting how states were affected by and how state governments responded to the pandemic. As such, this estimate is subject to greater than normal “sampling error.”On the

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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 4.17 million in April, down 20.6% from March’s preliminary pace and down 20.1% from last April’s seasonally adjusted pace.

I should note that this “earlier than normal” estimate is based on a smaller sample than my normal “early read.” In addition, there are huge differences in sales figures not just across states but within states, with much of the differences reflecting how states were affected by and how state governments responded to the pandemic. As such, this estimate is subject to greater than normal “sampling error.”

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 April will be 7down about 15.0% 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 8.3% from last April.

Here are a few other observations: first, while not all realtor reports break out sales by type of property (e.g., single-family detached vs. condo/townhomes), almost all that do reported a significantly larger YOY decline in condo/townhome sales than in single-family detached sales.

Second, while not all realtor reports include data on new pending sales – and some that do often revise those data significantly – it is worth nothing that almost all realtor reports with new pending sales data showed a significantly larger YOY drop in pending sales than in closed sales. E.g., of the realtor reports than included new pending sales, the combined closed sales in those reports were down 20% YOY while combined pending sales were down 34% YOY.

CR Note: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is scheduled to release April existing home sales on Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 10:00 AM ET. The consensus is for 4.30 million SAAR.

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