Another month, another drop in existing home sales, which in March declined once again from 4.60MM units to 4.59MM. While the good news was that this number did beat the consensus estimate of 4.56MM (based on a a range of 4.50MM to 4.85MM from 75 economist surveyed), the bad news was that once again, a near majority of the upside was once again due to investors and other all-cash buyers, who accounted for 50% of all sales. That and that like last time, of course, this was the worst existing home sales number since July 2012.
Some of the other data highlights:
- Existing-home sales fell 0.2% after falling 0.4% prior month
- 5.2 months supply in March vs. 5.0 in Feb.
- Inventory rose 4.7% to 1.99m homes
- 1st-time buyers 30% of total sales; all cash 33%; investors 17%
- Distressed sales 14% of total sales; of which foreclosures 10%; short sales 4%
- Median home price rose 7.9% from last year to $198,500
Everyone's favorite NAR talking head Larry Yun had this to say:
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that current sales activity is underperforming by historical standards. “There really should be stronger levels of home sales given our population growth,” he said. “In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory shortages.”
Yun expects some improvement in the months ahead. “With ongoing job creation and some weather delayed shopping activity, home sales should pick up, especially if inventory continues to improve and mortgage interest rates rise only modestly.”
But only if it doesn't snow, or rain, and certainly not if it is windy or the sun is shining just the wrong shade of strong. Remember in an artificial, centrally-planned economy represented by a rigged market, the phrase priced to perfection takes on a whole new meaning.
Some more details from the report:
All-cash sales comprised 33 percent of transactions in March, compared with 35 percent in February and 30 percent in March 2013. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 17 percent of homes in March, down from 21 percent in February and 19 percent in March 2013. Seventy-one percent of investors paid cash in March.
Single-family home sales were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.04 million in March, the same as February, but are 7.3 percent below the 4.36 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $198,200 in March, which is 7.4 percent above March 2013.
Existing condominium and co-op sales declined 1.8 percent to an annual rate of 550,000 units in March from 560,000 in February, and are 8.3 percent below the 600,000 level in March 2013. The median existing condo price was $200,800 in March, up 11.6 percent from a year ago.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 9.1 percent to an annual rate of 600,000 in March, but are 4.8 percent below March 2013. The median price in the Northeast was $244,700, up 3.2 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 4.0 percent in March to a pace of 1.04 million, but are 10.3 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $149,600, which is 5.9 percent above March 2013.
In the South, existing-home sales declined 3.0 percent to an annual level of 1.92 million in March, and also are 3.0 percent below March 2013. The median price in the South was $173,000, up 6.7 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West fell 3.7 percent to a pace of 1.03 million in March, and are 13.4 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $289,300, which is 12.6 percent higher than March 2013.
Finally, remember that all of the above is largely BS - the NAR is, as the name implies, an association of realtors, and as such it is in their best interest to perpetually skew the picture as far rosier than it is, just so prospective buyers aren't spooked by the reality behind the crumbling fake facade.