Predicting 2013 home sales through housing statistics

by Dan Krell
DanKrell.com
© 2013
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home sale statsMuch like a soap opera cliff hanger, 2012 home sales ended on an upward swing leaving people wanting more good news. There’s a lot expected from this year’s real estate market, so what are some of the experts saying about 2013?

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (www.standardandpoors.com/indices) press release dated January 29th reported home prices rose during 2012 through November rose in 19 of 20 cities. The 10-city composite revealed an annual home price increase of 4.5% and the 20-city composite revealed a home price increase of 5.5%. And although the release described that the seasonally adjusted home prices may be an indication of a week winter housing market, there was a clear pronouncement that “…housing is clearly recovering…” and pointed out that nationwide existing home sale volume outpaced recent years’ volumes. The cities that made the most gains were the cities that experienced the most declines in home values and the highest foreclosure rates. The home price indices of the 10-city and 20-city composites are reportedly back to 2003 levels.

The National Association of Realtors® (realtor.org) reported in a February 11th press release that the national median existing single family home price increased 10% in the fourth quarter 2012 over the same period in 2011. And the Housing Affordability Index indicates that the homebuyer’s buying power is at a point where they could “comfortably” afford to purchase a home.

Fourth quarter 2012 home sales volume was reported by NAR to be the highest since the fourth quarter 2009; 23% of home sales during the quarter were from distressed home sales (short sales and foreclosures). Additionally, home sale inventory was down about 21.6% for the quarter, which is the lowest since 2001.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun was reported as saying that home sales are being energized by “pent up demand” and low inventories. He stated, “…all the conditions for strong price growth are at play.”… “Home sales are on a sustained uptrend, mortgage interest rates are hovering near record lows and unsold inventory is at the lowest level in 12 years…” Yun believes that “…supply and demand dynamics are very much at play.”

Given recent reports from various sources, it looks as if there is momentum in the real estate market. And NAR’s Dr. Yun lays out an argument for home sales that hasn’t been since 2006. But chances are that 2013 home sales will be about many factors, not just “pent up demand” or “supply and demand.” For example, it is doubtful that hedge funds will continue the bulk foreclosure buying that pushed home sales figures to almost record levels.

By themselves, housing indices are broad based measures that typically measure one aspect of the housing market; describing the variables responsible for the measures and indices is more difficult and usually a guess at what’s happening in the marketplace. In an effort to provide a more meaningful measure of the housing market, I devised a measure called the “Krell List-to-Sold Ratio;” which is the ratio of total number of listings to the total number of homes sold in any given area during any time period. The January 2013 Krell List-to-Sold Ratio for Montgomery County reveals that activity continues to be elevated; which is interpreted to mean that the year has started stronger than recent years, but not as strong as 2012.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 11, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

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