Existing-home sales are projected to recover after a weak report in November due to the implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, according to the latest Auction.com Residential Real Estate Nowcast report.
For the month of December, existing-home sales are estimated to fall between seasonally adjusted annual rates of 4.8 and 5.11 million annual sales, with a targeted number of 4.95 million – up 4.1% from November.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ latest report, total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 10.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million in November.
The Auction.com noted that this is the lowest level since April 2014 and represents a 3.8% year-over-year decline, the first annual decrease since September 2014.
The Nowcast report said that that drop-off was unexpected by both economist estimates and Auction.com.
But despite the lackluster results in November, Auction.com Chief Economist Peter Muoio cautioned against reading too much into November’s surprisingly weak sales figure, pointing to the presence of several positive underlying fundamentals that typically lead to home sales: a healthy job market, wage gains, improved consumer confidence and – at least through the end of 2015 – low interest rates.
“One potential cause for the November drop-off is the introduction of the CFPB’s ‘Know Before You Owe’ mortgage initiative, which could have created processing delays and pushed closings out a month or two. If this is the case, we could end up seeing home sales bounce back from the November low by early 2016,” said Muoio.
Low inventory and affordability concerns are projected to continue to post challenges that could further restrain home sales going into 2016.
“Inventory of homes for sale continues to be extraordinarily low, since a very large number of homeowners are in negative or near-negative equity positions,” said Auction.com executive vice president Rick Sharga.
“What could pose more of an issue in 2016 is the combination of potentially higher interest rates and rising home prices making homes less affordable for potential buyers.”
The latest CoreLogic home price report supports this, with home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, surging 6.3% in November 2015 compared with November 2014.
“Many factors, including strong demand and tight supply in many markets, are contributing to the long-sustained boom in prices and home equity which is a very good thing for those owning homes,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.
“On the flip side, prices have outstripped incomes for several years in a number of regions so, as we enter 2016, affordability is becoming more of a constraint on sales in some markets,” said Nallathambi.