May Existing Home Sales Down 2.2%, Market Eyeing New Home Sales Data, Lumber and ITB Moving in Tandem

The existing home sales number knocked down the market today (I believe).  Here's a Bloomberg Vid explaining what happened.  Get ready for the New Home Sales number tomorrow.  The Bloomberg survey (average economist estimate) sees new home sales down 17.4%.  With the price of Lumber down 42% from its peak in April, it could be pricing in lower new home sales, construction permits and housing starts going forward.  I'm not sure which data point tracks lumber directly, but I threw up a 6 month chart of Lumber and $ITB (Dow Jones Home Construction Index ETF) and they pretty much moved in tandem. 
  • Existing Home Sales (SA) -2.2% vs. last month (unexpected), +19.2% vs. last year (not bad)
  • Existing Home Inventory -3.4% vs. last month, +1.1% vs. last year
  • 8.3 Months of Existing Housing Inventory, -1.2% vs. last month, -14.4% vs. last year
  • Median Sales price +2.7% vs. last year
  • Average Sales Price +3.8% vs. last year
Lumber vs. ITB (Home Construction ETF) - Stockcharts.com

From National Association of Realtors on June 22, 2010:
Existing-home sales remained at elevated levels in May on buyer response to the tax credit, characterized by stabilizing home prices and historically low mortgage interest rates, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Gains in the West and South were offset by a decline in the Northeast; the Midwest was steady. 
Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million units in May, down 2.2 percent from an upwardly revised surge of 5.79 million units in April. May closings are 19.2 percent above the 4.75 million-unit level in May 2009; April sales were revised to show an 8.0 percent monthly gain.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said he expects one more month of elevated home sales. “We are witnessing the ongoing effects of the home buyer tax credit, which we’ll also see in June real estate closings,” he said. “However, approximately 180,000 home buyers who signed a contract in good faith to receive the tax credit may not be able to finalize by the end of June due to delays in the mortgage process, particularly for short sales.

“In addition, many potential sales are being delayed by an interruption in the National Flood Insurance Program. Florida and Louisiana, also impacted by the oil spill, have the highest percentage of homes that require flood insurance.”

As the leading advocate for homeownership issues, NAR is supporting Senate amendments to extend the home buyer tax credit closing deadline through September 30 for contracts written by April 30, and to renew the flood insurance program. “Sales and related local economic activity would have been higher without delays in the closing process or flood insurance issues,” Yun noted.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.89 percent in May from 5.10 percent in April; the rate was 4.86 percent in May 2009.

The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $179,600 in May, up 2.7 percent from May 2009. Distressed homes slipped to 31 percent of sales last month, compared with 33 percent in April; it was also 33 percent in May 2009."

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