This morning’s release of the March New Single-Family Homes Sales from the Census Bureau at 481K disappointed expectations, although the sales for the previous month were revised upward. The actual decline was 11.4%. The Investing.com forecast was for 513K sales, which would have been a 5.4% decline from the previous month.
Here is the opening from the report:
|Sales of new single-family houses in March 2015 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 11.4 percent (±18.6%)* below the revised February rate of 543,000, but is 19.4 percent (±21.8%)* above the March 2014 estimate of 403,000. [Full Report]
For a longer-term perspective, here is a snapshot of the data series, which is produced in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The data since January 1963 is available in the St. Louis Fed’s FRED repository here.
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Over this time frame we see the steady rise in new home sales following the 1990 recession and the acceleration in sales during the real estate bubble that peaked in 2005.
The Population-Adjusted Reality
Now let’s examine the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau’s mid-month population estimates show a 70.4% increase in the US population since 1963. The snapshot below is an overlay of the New Single-Family Home Sales series along with a population-adjusted version.
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New single-family home sales are 18.6% below the 1963 start of this data series. The population-adjusted version is 52.3% below the first 1963 sales and at a level similar to the lows we saw during the double-dip recession in the early 1980s, a time when 30-year mortgage rates peaked above 18%. Today’s 30-year rate is below 4%.
Images: Flickr (licence attribution)
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My original dshort.com website was launched in February 2005 using a domain name based on my real name, Doug Short. I’m a formerly retired first wave boomer with a Ph.D. in English from Duke. Now my website has been acquired byAdvisor Perspectives, where I have been appointed the Vice President of Research.
My first career was a faculty position at North Carolina State University, where I achieved the rank of Full Professor in 1983. During the early ’80s I got hooked on academic uses of microcomputers for research and instruction. In 1983, I co-directed the Sixth International Conference on Computers and the Humanities. An IBM executive who attended the conference made me a job offer I couldn’t refuse.
Thus began my new career as a Higher Education Consultant for IBM — an ambassador for Information Technology to major universities around the country. After 12 years with Big Blue, I grew tired of the constant travel and left for a series of IT management positions in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. I concluded my IT career managing the group responsible for email and research databases at GlaxoSmithKline until my retirement in 2006.
Contrary to what many visitors assume based on my last name, I’m not a bearish short seller. It’s true that some of my content has been a bit pessimistic in recent years. But I believe this is a result of economic realities and not a personal bias. For the record, my efforts to educate others about bear markets date from November 2007, as this Motley Fool