Editor's Note: Lee Adler has been covering the global markets (without regard to establishment spin-meisters) for nearly 15 years over at the Wall Street Examiner. He predicted everything from the top of the dot-bomb bubble in 2000 to the Crash of 2008. We're sharing this story with you today because Lee has uncovered a critical problem with the U.S. housing market - a problem the Fed is betting we won't find out about...
The seasonally adjusted (SA) headline number for the monthly-error-times-12-annualized version of new home sales in June was 482,000.
Wall Street analysts had guessed that the number would be 550,000. The Wall Street Journal went into apoplectic excuse-making mode, almost foaming at the mouth to try to find pundits to explain away the bad number.
The whole spectacle was silly and pointless since we have actual data and can readily see whether sales remain on trend or not. We don't need Wall Street pundits to tell us what to think.
We can see for ourselves...
The Numbers Look Great... If You Have No Memory
Actual June sales were estimated by the Census Bureau to be 45,000 units, based on their small sample of builders nationally. This number and the headline number are subject to big revisions in subsequent months because the margin of error on the initial release is huge.
But let's assume that the 45,000 figure is in the ballpark. That number was 7,000 units, or 18.4%, higher than June of last year. 2014 was a down year, but the current figure is also 4.7% above the June 2013 peak level. So new house sales are still trending higher, at least a little bit. They are a whopping 60.7% higher than the June 2010 low in the cycle.
The current rate of sales is exactly the same as in June 2008, the next to last year in the housing collapse. It is 54% below the level of June 2006 and 61% below the June 2005 level (when I sold my house in Florida).
While sales haven't bounced much, the "recovery" in prices has been remarkable. If 2006 was the peak bubble year, with the median sale price in June hitting $243,200, what does that make the current median of $281,800, which is 16% higher? Not a bubble? I'll let you be the judge.
The median price is up 31% since June 2010. But of course house prices don't "inflate." Neither The Wall Street Journal, whose godfather Rupert Murdoch also owns Realtor.com, nor any of the other mainstream media press release repeaters ever use the word "inflate" or "inflation" when it comes to house prices.
We're told to think, "What we don't inflate, you must appreciate!"
The Disappointing Trend Driving This "Growth"
Looking under the cover of the headline number, the breakdown of the data is ugly. Virtually the entire year-to-year gain is because of your parents, and maybe you if you're my age, moving to Florida. There were 26,000 sales in the "South" (actually the Southeast). That was 5,000 units, or nearly 24%, above last June, accounting for 58% of total sales. By the same token, even with the recovery, sales in the Southeast were still down 49% from the peak of June 2005.
Other than that permanent demographic trend of retirees moving south, there is no new home sales market.
About the Author
Financial Analyst, 50-year charting expert, finance + real estate pro, and market analyst; published and edited the Wall Street Examiner since 2000.