Existing Home Sales Debacle, As Larry 'Baghdad-Bob' Yun Confirms Overstatement

Tyler Durden's picture

In what can only be described as completely unsurprising, Larry Yun of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has admitted, according to CNNMoney, that maybe possibly they overstated, purely by accident, the number of existing homes sales statistic that has formed the cornerstone of his constant corner-turning commentary over the past few years. We have unequivocally challenged the Ph.D.'s claims as fudged and fabricated this year and even the Wall Street Journal, back in February of 2011, saw 'challenges' in the NAR's data when compared to other unbiased sources of the same reality. We can only assume that when Yun explains, in true Baghdad-Bob-style, the adjustments (when they are released on December 21st) that they will be either a signal that the bottom is in for home sales or that from such a low base, things can only get better. From our perspective, they remain irrelevant and untrustworthy with the CoreLogic data seemingly less naturally biased to an organization desperate for a foothold on the glimmering slope back to the American Dream.

 

From the WSJ's story in Feb 2011, the divergence of sales data is already egregiously overstated during the hey-days, let alone the downturn.

From CNNMoney: Existing home sales to be revised lower

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- If you thought the U.S. housing market couldn't get much worse, think again.

 

Far fewer homes have been sold over the past five years than previously estimated, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

 

NAR said it plans to downwardly revise sales of previously-owned homes going back to 2007 during the release of its next existing home sales report on Dec. 21.

 

NAR's existing home sales numbers, released monthly, are a closely followed gauge of the health of the housing market.

 

While NAR hasn't revealed exactly how big the revision to home sales will be, the agency's chief economist Lawrence Yun said the decrease will be "meaningful."

 

"For the real estate business, this means the housing market's downturn was deeper than what was initially thought," Yun said.

 

Yun said the database NAR uses to track existing home sales, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), has led the real estate agency to over-count existing home sales for several reasons.

 

The MLS database only includes home sales listed by realtors, and excludes homes listed by owners, providing a very narrow view of the market. And because more people are using realtors to list their homes instead of selling them independently, realtor-listed sales numbers have become artificially inflated, said Yun.

 

In addition, some of the assumptions NAR used in calculating its data have become outdated, since they were based on 2000 Census data.

 

The MLS has also been expanding its geographic coverage, so it may have appeared that there were more home sales simply because data from new areas were starting to show up. Also because of this geographic expansion, the system has been double-counting sales of some homes that can be considered part of multiple regions.

 

"Colorado Springs has their own database, but because the Denver market is nearby they may also list that home in the Denver database, so when the home gets sold, both Denver and Colorado Springs will say sales rose -- so that's genuine double-counting," said Yun.

 

Yun said NAR realized this upward "shift" in data during its most recent re-benchmarking process this year. With the help of the government, economists and other real estate groups, NAR has now taken these factors into account and will issue revised numbers on Dec. 21 at 10 a.m.

 

"There are multifaceted reasons why things were drifting upward in our database," said Yun. "We have tried to adjust for all these factors so that we have a better understanding of total home sales in America."

Yun emphasized that the revisions will have no impact on consumers because median home price data will not be revised.

Existing Home Sales (NSA) have shown a remarkably stable average over the past four years (that the downward revisions will impact). We can only wonder how these data changes will affect models of MBS prepayment speeds (among other variables) as very different months-of-supply data must change the picture that has been painted for the last few years.

 

 

We can only assume that when Yun explains, in true Baghdad-Bob-style, the adjustments (when they are released on December 21st) that they will be either a signal that the bottom is in for home sales or that from such a low base, things can only get better. From our perspective, the NAR data remain irrelevant and untrustworthy with the CoreLogic data seemingly less naturally biased to an organization desperate for a foothold on the glimmering slope back to the American Dream.