Friday, February 26, 2010

January '10 Existing Home Sales - the numbers actually are bad?

M. Siegel emails:
One shouldn't be so quick to discount the decline in the most recently reported NAR existing home sales as related to inclement weather in January.

As this release from NAR suggests, the January data reflect closings of contracts executed in the months of November and December. See here.

"NAR chief economist, said there is still some delay between shopping and closing that affected current sales. “Most of the completed deals in January were based on contracts in November and December. People who got into the market after the home buyer tax credit was extended in November have only recently started to offer contracts, so it will take a couple months to close those sales,”"

and, from Footnote Number 1 of NAR's release:

"Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings."

Thus it would appear the January data is not based on contracts signed in that month (which would have been affected by the weather), but rather represents sales completed ("transaction closings") from contracts entered into during November and December.
I think Siegel has something here, though bad weather could have postponed some closings, and perhaps pushed some into February. Bottom line, January and February numbers are very difficult to read, especially when you have the bad weather we had this year.

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