Existing Home Sales: Take the Under

by Bill McBride on 3/19/2017 02:05:00 PM

The NAR will report February Existing Home Sales on Wednesday, March 22nd at 10:00 AM ET.
The consensus, according to Bloomberg, is that the NAR will report sales of 5.55 million. Housing economist Tom Lawler estimates the NAR will report sales of 5.41 million on a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) basis, down from 5.69 million SAAR in January.
Housing economist Tom Lawler has been sending me his predictions of what the NAR will report for almost 7 years. The table below shows the consensus for each month, Lawler's predictions, and the NAR's initial reported level of sales.
Lawler hasn't always been closer than the consensus, but usually when there has been a fairly large spread between Lawler's estimate and the "consensus", Lawler has been closer.
NOTE: There have been times when Lawler "missed", but then he pointed out an apparent error in the NAR data – and the subsequent revision corrected that error. As an example, see: The “Curious Case” of Existing Home Sales in the South in April
Over the last seven years, the consensus average miss was 150 thousand, and Lawler's average miss was 70 thousand.
Many analysts now change their "forecast" after Lawler's estimate is posted, so the consensus has improved a little recently!

Existing Home Sales, Forecasts and NAR Report
millions, seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR)
Month Consensus Lawler NAR reported1
May-10 6.20 5.83 5.66
Jun-10 5.30 5.30 5.37
Jul-10 4.66 3.95 3.83
Aug-10 4.10 4.10 4.13
Sep-10 4.30 4.50 4.53
Oct-10 4.50 4.46 4.43
Nov-10 4.85 4.61 4.68
Dec-10 4.90 5.13 5.28
Jan-11 5.20 5.17 5.36
Feb-11 5.15 5.00 4.88
Mar-11 5.00 5.08 5.10
Apr-11 5.20 5.15 5.05
May-11 4.75 4.80 4.81
Jun-11 4.90 4.71 4.77
Jul-11 4.92 4.69 4.67
Aug-11 4.75 4.92 5.03
Sep-11 4.93 4.83 4.91
Oct-11 4.80 4.86 4.97
Nov-11 5.08 4.40 4.42
Dec-11 4.60 4.64 4.61
Jan-12 4.69 4.66 4.57
Feb-12 4.61 4.63 4.59
Mar-12 4.62 4.59 4.48
Apr-12 4.66 4.53 4.62
May-12 4.57 4.66 4.55
Jun-12 4.65 4.56 4.37
Jul-12 4.50 4.47 4.47
Aug-12 4.55 4.87 4.82
Sep-12 4.75 4.70 4.75
Oct-12 4.74 4.84 4.79
Nov-12 4.90 5.10 5.04
Dec-12 5.10 4.97 4.94
Jan-13 4.90 4.94 4.92
Feb-13 5.01 4.87 4.98
Mar-13 5.03 4.89 4.92
Apr-13 4.92 5.03 4.97
May-13 5.00 5.20 5.18
Jun-13 5.27 4.99 5.08
Jul-13 5.13 5.33 5.39
Aug-13 5.25 5.35 5.48
Sep-13 5.30 5.26 5.29
Oct-13 5.13 5.08 5.12
Nov-13 5.02 4.98 4.90
Dec-13 4.90 4.96 4.87
Jan-14 4.70 4.67 4.62
Feb-14 4.64 4.60 4.60
Mar-14 4.56 4.64 4.59
Apr-14 4.67 4.70 4.65
May-14 4.75 4.81 4.89
Jun-14 4.99 4.96 5.04
Jul-14 5.00 5.09 5.15
Aug-14 5.18 5.12 5.05
Sep-14 5.09 5.14 5.17
Oct-14 5.15 5.28 5.26
Nov-14 5.20 4.90 4.93
Dec-14 5.05 5.15 5.04
Jan-15 5.00 4.90 4.82
Feb-15 4.94 4.87 4.88
Mar-15 5.04 5.18 5.19
Apr-15 5.22 5.20 5.04
May-15 5.25 5.29 5.35
Jun-15 5.40 5.45 5.49
Jul-15 5.41 5.64 5.59
Aug-15 5.50 5.54 5.31
Sep-15 5.35 5.56 5.55
Oct-15 5.41 5.33 5.36
Nov-15 5.32 4.97 4.76
Dec-15 5.19 5.36 5.46
Jan-16 5.32 5.36 5.47
Feb-16 5.30 5.20 5.08
Mar-16 5.27 5.27 5.33
Apr-16 5.40 5.44 5.45
May-16 5.64 5.55 5.53
Jun-16 5.48 5.62 5.57
Jul-16 5.52 5.41 5.39
Aug-16 5.44 5.49 5.33
Sep-16 5.35 5.55 5.47
Oct-16 5.44 5.47 5.60
Nov-16 5.54 5.60 5.61
Dec-16 5.54 5.55 5.49
Jan-17 5.55 5.60 5.69
Feb-17 5.55 5.41
1NAR initially reported before revisions.

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