New Home Sales Highest Since April 2010... Until One Reads The Fine Print

Tyler Durden's picture

On the surface, today's New Home Sales number was great (as always tends to happen just before a presidential election): a print of 389K seasonally adjusted annualized units sold in the US (ignoring the 37.3% collapse in the Midwest), which was a 5.7% increase from August's downward (unlike initial jobless claims, when one is attempting to report an increase, the last number is always revised downward) revised 368K (was 373K). This number was the highest adjusted print since April 2010, which makes for great headlines. So far so good, until one looks beneath the headline and finds that the 389K number (to be revised lower next month), is based on a September unadjusted number of 31K in actual sales, consistting of 3K sales in the Northeast and MidWest each, 16K in the South and 9K in the West. This is the unadjusted number, which as last week's BLS fiasco with Initial Claims showed, applying seasonal adjustments is the easiest and best way to manipulate any data set (for more see X-12 Arima's FAQ - all 257 pages of it). This was the lowest print since February's 30K, the same as August's 31K, and well below the 35K from May 2012.

But wait, there's more: when one looks at the stage of construction (analogues to Housing Starts and Permits where one just needs a piece of paper to fabricate buying interest, and can be cancelled days later with zero sunk costs), the 31K unadjusted number consisted of 10K Not Started, 10K Under Construction, and 11K homes actually completed. To summarize: the Census Bureau took the sale of 11K actual new completed homes and extrapolated an annualized, seasonally adjusted number of 389K, feeding the media a number that is the "highest since April 2010." Instead, one look at the NSA chart below and one can see that grinding along the bottom is the best one can actually say.

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Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Best reason to check ZH before acting

redpill's picture

The sample size on that survey is so thin it's nearly meaningless anyway.


Regardless, Fed money is making it to the housing market, and the relatively few remaining home builders that have survived this long are building to market conditions.  They've been able to hold the line on price.  But there are substantial constraints on growth, and anyone that thinks homebuilder stocks are a lucrative opportunity is fooling themselves.  The construction industry segment is thoroughly analyzed and front run by hedgies anyway.

mvsjcl's picture

"...and the relatively few remaining home builders that have survived this long..." are owned by who?

redpill's picture

The largest ones are publicly traded, so you can look up their top share holders if you like.  Of course they lobby the shit out of the government too so you can expect to see continued attempts to reinflate the housing bubble.

otto skorzeny's picture

the only people building/buying around here (Chi burbs) are cops/firefighters/govt leeches that have their "jobs for life"(or until their pensions are Corzined

MiltonFriedmansNightmare's picture

I feel ya Otto. In Northwest IN, I know of at lest 3 housing starts (I'm confident there are at least one or two more that I'm unaware of).

alangreedspank's picture

lol @ "Corzined". You can expect firefighters setting fires and cops creating chaos when that happens.

malikai's picture

Want to make your head explode? Calculate your home's value in barrels of oil for 1999, 2002, 2007, and today.

socalbeach's picture

Housing priced in gold for last 36 years as of last Nov when gold was $1,785/oz.

malikai's picture

Gold is really a good one. I like oil because it displays purchasing power in energy, which is familiar to all americans.

TruthInSunshine's picture

I know this industry well. This is an abysmal annual rate of sales even on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Remember that the annual rate of NEW HOME sales was 2.1 million units in 2006.

We are talking depression levels housing sales with these latest datum, so I can't fathom how any entity or person can trumpet this level of sales as anything that's remotely indicative of strength, let alone not indicative of extremely anemic.

Once one factors in the multi-unit residential sales, many of which are the result of subsidies from government agencies, both to builders and buyers, and then considering the rampant levels of mortgage fraud (...surprise!, It's back) not only in the new home market, but also in the existing home market (see "flopping" as an example), which has an impact on the new home sales' levels, this is an abomination.

FHA loans only require 3.5% down, and mortgage rates are at historic lows, and these are the best numbers new housing sales can post? AWFUL, and very revealing about how epicly bad the actual economy truly is.

Consider also that the best season for new home sales (i.e. the actual transfer of the deed to owner or mortgage lender) is the period just prior to the start of school in late August through October (some people miss the back to school deadline by a few weeks or a month inevitably), and these sales' numbers are simply incredibly bad.

The most worrying aspects to these latest datum is that housing is now being talked about again as "taking the baton" from manufacturing as a core industry to lead U.S. GDP growth, when anyone who understands economics 101 knows definitively that housing is not an industry that should be viewed this way, given that its health depends on the true rate of growth in employment and wages elsewhere, and any attempt to portray the housing industry as anything other than dependant upon and derivative of the real health of the real, core economy, is absolute lunacy.

The housing bubble became a bubble because unit sales of new homes and their prices were rising despite the fact that jobs and wages in other key areas of the economy were being gutted, and a cycle then ensued that hid that destruction whereby people who lost jobs or suffered reduced income in non-housing sectors of the economy shifted into the housing sector, thus depending on ever increasing sales and prices in new homes to maintain their employment and income.

The housing market (especially new housing) is a derivative and NOT A DRIVING CAUSE of the true health and growth of the economy.  A prime case study of this is the Spanish housing bubble, which was epic, and which provides clarity as to how housing is never a sustainable driver of economic growth (if the economic growth isn't happening in sustainable portions of the economy, housing will collapse).

These equal depression level new home sales even if the highly massaged and manipulated headline number is assumed to be accurate (which, of course, it's not).

malikai's picture

Lol! Feed The Fed?

To the lions..

Kaiser Sousa's picture

thanks for that sunshine...

ur post will be  exhibit A when i confront the muppets at my local pub later today...

to no avail of course...they're still plugged n.....

walküre's picture

Good post. What is the current inventory to sales ratio? That's gotta be one ugly number.

Smiddywesson's picture

The housing market (especially new housing) is a derivative and NOT A DRIVING CAUSE of the true health and growth of the economy. 

No, we have Facebook and iPhones for that...

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

Total unadjusted sold through 2012:  285K

Total unadjusted sold through the same period of 2011:  234K

Annual sold 2009:  375K

Annual sold 2010:  323K

Annual sold 2011:  306K

We'll probably hit a sales number similar to 2009.  However:

Annual sold 2005:  1,285K

Annual sold 1982 (when a 30 year mortgage had an 18% interest rate):  412K



JuliaS's picture

They should model the housing survey after the BLS model to determine whether a person qualifies as a homeowner:

- Have you visited a house in the last 4 weeks or any structure containing either a roof or a wall?

- In the last 4 weeks, have you held a key, a keycard, a crowbar or any other device capable of opening doors?

- Are you planning to visit any structure located under or above ground in the next 4 weeks?

- Are you responding to this survey indoors right now?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions you are a homeowner.

midtowng's picture

If you take into account seasonal adjustments, I'm a 10 with women.

Jlmadyson's picture

31K what a joke.

Even worse with the fine print.

ebworthen's picture

Extrapolation, the new normal!

Shadow inventory?  There is no shadow inventory, all been bought up by cash rich investors!

Problem?  What problem?  That isn't a 2-inch wart on my face, it's a second nose that acts as gills under water, really!

JPM Hater001's picture

I want to try this extrapolation thing.

Does it come with a manual?

mayhem's picture

bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit... that is what is fed to people everyday. But it is in print so it must be true. 

Eternal Complainer's picture

Of course they roll out Buffet this morning on CNBS( with trophy girlfriend)
to add credence by confirming the bullshit before hand first with Buffet claiming the rebound in housing.
It's like watching The Sting, with Redford and Newman, but instead it's Buffet and CNBS harlot.


otto skorzeny's picture

Becky Quick (followed by Maria B) needs a good donkey punch

malikai's picture

I'll take care of Becky, you get Maria.

rajc's picture

soon the street will become smart....wait for it...wait for it...

ziggy59's picture

Its the mathematicians that should get the best drug trip award. Because, DAMM!!

They take hallucinating to the next level..

Vincent Vega's picture

Also reported this morning: MBA Mortgage Apps -12%  (week ended Oct 19)

ebworthen's picture

Shhhh!  Hopium day today, reality can wait.

JPM Hater001's picture

Transitory.  Had to be a holiday in there somewhere that caused this...or warm weather.

fonzannoon's picture

Santelli used to jump on this info but he has gone spineless lately. now he just tips his hat to the positive data. then they cut to kaminsky who gets concerned that the fed will have to start undoing qe based on these positive datapoints. they must have to get to work at 3am to rehearse this farce.

ebworthen's picture

In this economy, Rick probably wants to keep his job.

CNBC producers can only allow so much reality to leak out.

LouisDega's picture

Hes putting on his Howard Beale costume as we speak


DOT's picture

Don't waste those lies!


Every lie is sacred,

Every lie is pure,

If a lie is wasted,

Barak gets quite peturbed.

insanelysane's picture

Seems bullish to me.  11k new homes completed in September.  That is 220 per state and in Massachusetts that translates to just under 1 new house per town. Bullish I say! </sarc>

Village Smithy's picture

Sometimes the simplist math can say so much. Nicely put.

mvsjcl's picture

But that will surely skew Wyoming and Alaska numbers!

PUD's picture

Did they sell or did they not? WTF seasonal adjustment is there? Was the contract signed or not? jesus christ...hope the Donald lowers the boom today. lol

Doubleguns's picture

I wish I could extrapolate an annualized, seasonally adjusted paycheck number. THAT would get my animal spirits going.

slackrabbit's picture

“New Home Sales Highest Since April 2010 (in a parallel universe)

Dr. Engali's picture

Since we are back with a booming housing market uncle Ben can start withdrawing some liquidity right? He might need to put on the brakes before this thing over heats.

you enjoy myself's picture

all of this seasonally adjusted nonsense, across all reports, should be ended immediately.  its the government's job to just report the hard numbers - leave the extrapolations and interpretations and estimations to the army of priavte sector analysts to do what they like with it.   we're employing all of these bureaucrat PHD's to massage numbers for absolutely no reason.  the report should have been generated by one person in one day of work, and consisted of nothing but "10K Not Started, 10K Under Construction, and 11K finished homes", with a state by state listing.  the end.

Rainman's picture

You want .gov to discontinue confusing the sheep..?? That's never been attempted ever.

Cursive's picture

11k new homes = 389 new home sales  WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One hope that I have for The Great Reset is that we can get back to reality and truth.  Maybe a hopeless cause, but worth striving for, nonetheless.

NooooB's picture

300,000 sure sounds a lot better than 25,000 ... People that do this kind of shit should be hung. They know what they are doing. Obfuscation should be constitutionally outlawed under penalty of death.

ebworthen's picture

What's a "constitution"?