Thursday, February 07, 2008

NARcasting The Future: February 2008

Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) provided their latest estimate of annual existing home sales for 2008 revising down their prior estimate to a 4.9 million unit annual pace for the first half of the year and revising up the estimate to 5.8 million unit annual pace in the second half.

Given the truly awful quality of forecasts provided by NAR economists, I’m going to stick with their estimate for the first half of the year giving them less room for egregious error.

As usual, the latest forecast comes with another dose of truly ridiculous spin.

In an effort to put their absurd bias into perspective I compiled all their existing home sales forecasts for 2007 and now 2008 into a chart along with a list of prominent quotes supplied with each forecast.

12/11/2006 Prediction: 6.40 million units.
Lereah "Most of the correction in home prices is behind us."

1/10/2007 Prediction: 6.42 million units.
Lereah "The good news is that the steady improvement in sales will support price appreciation moving forward."

2/7/2007 Prediction: 6.44 million units.
Lereah "After reaching what appears to be the bottom in the fourth quarter of 2006, we expect existing-home sales to gradually rise all this year and well into 2008."

3/13/2007 Prediction: 6.42 million units.
Lereah "Although existing-home sales will be marginally reduced due to subprime lending restrictions, they should be gradually rising this year and next."

4/11/2007 Prediction: 6.34 million units.
Lereah "Tighter lending standards will dampen home sales a bit, but by less than a couple of percentage points from initial projections."

Lereah Leaves NAR for

5/9/2007 Prediction: 6.29 million units.
Yun "Housing activity this year will be somewhat lower than in earlier forecasts."

6/6/2007 Prediction: 6.18 million units.
Yun "Home sales will probably fluctuate in a narrow range in the short run, but gradually trend upward with improving activity by the end of the year."

7/11/2007 Prediction: 6.11 million units.
Yun "Home prices are expected to recover in 2008 with existing-home sales picking up late this year."

8/8/2007 Prediction: 6.04 million units.
Yun “With the population growing, the demand for homes isn’t going away – it’s just being delayed.”

9/11/2007 Prediction: 5.92 million units.
Yun “Patient buyers in most areas who do their homework will recognize that housing remains a good long-term investment.”

10/10/2007 Prediction: 5.78 million units.
Yun "The speculative excesses have been removed from the market and home sales are returning to fundamentally healthy levels, while prices remain near record highs, reflecting favorable mortgage rates and positive job gains."

11/13/2007 Prediction: 5.5 million units.
Yun "In some ways, the extended real estate boom from 2001 to 2005 created unrealistic expectations that housing is a short-term high-yield investment… 2007 will be the fifth best year for housing on record"

12/10/2007 Prediction: 5.67 million units in 2007, 5.7 million units in 2008.
Yun "The broad trend over the coming year will be a gradual rise in existing-home sales, but because sales are exceptionally low in the final months of 2007, total sales for 2008 will be only modestly higher than 2007."

01/08/2008 Prediction: 5.66 million units in 2007, 5.7 million units in 2008.
Yun "A meaningful recovery in existing-home sales could occur as early as this spring, or it may be further delayed toward late 2008."

02/07/2008 Prediction: 4.9 million units.
Yun "Where builders have cut construction sharply, and in most areas with improving affordability conditions, we’ll generally see moderately higher home prices."