4 things you need to know about existing-home sales data

  • NAR’s monthlies are annualized and seasonally adjusted. Numbers of homes sold in winter are so low, in many places less than half of spring sales, that percentage changes are magnified.
  • Seasonal adjustment can be inaccurate; neither weather nor interest rates nor the economy are consistent from one winter to the next.
  • Trying to collect all the sales in a consistent manner each month is a challenge.
  • If TRID did slow November closings, it pushed them into December, which should elevate next month's results.

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The National Association of Realtors’ monthly series on sales of existing homes should come with a data-translating thesaurus. NAR does not mean to mislead, but I think its data format conceals reality. The data are useful, but only as a broad, multi-month guide to trends.