This week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) provided their latest estimate of annual existing home sales for 2009 revising their 2009 total year sales forecast up to 4.968 million units.
Of course their chief economist, Lawrence Yun, has jumped on the “green shoots” bandwagon and is now (or yet again) talking of a looming recovery in housing while NAR president Charles McMillan spins a yarn of “affordability” and the favorable conditions for reaping the benefits of housings “long-term value”.
“For buyers who’ve been on the sidelines and have good jobs, the market has never looked more favorable. Homeownership has always offered immediate benefits and long-term value, but the advantages in today’s market are unique.”
In an effort to put their absurd bias into perspective I compiled all their existing home sales forecasts for 2007, 2008 and now 2009 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."
4/30/2007 Lereah Leaves NAR for Move.com
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."
ACTUAL: 5.652 million existing units sold in 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: 5.38 million units full year.
Yun "Where builders have cut construction sharply, and in most areas with improving affordability conditions, we’ll generally see moderately higher home prices."
03/06/2008 Prediction: 5.38 million units full year.
Yun "Significant price declines in some local markets have sharply and quickly improved local affordability conditions, and are inducing buyers to return to the marketplace"
04/08/2008 Prediction: 5.39 million units full year.
Yun "Exceptionally weak home sales related to jumbo loans problems will depress home prices in the first half of the year, but steady liquidity improvements in the conforming jumbo-loan market will help prices recover in the second half of the year"
05/08/2008 Prediction: 5.39 million units full year.
Yun "Although more than half of local markets are expected to see price growth this year, the aggregate existing-home price will decline 2.4 percent in 2008, driven by a relatively few markets that are very oversupplied"
06/09/2008 Prediction 5.4 million units full year.
Yun "We’re seeing healthy price gains in moderately priced areas like Erie, Pa., and Corpus Christi, Texas, and double-digit gains in others"
07/08/2008 Prediction 5.31 million units full year.
Yun "Interestingly, there have been reports of multiple bidding after the large price cuts, so it is possible that most of the price declines have already occurred in those markets."
08/08/2008 Prediction 5.51 million units full year.
Gaylord "buyers [will] get into the market to take advantage of the unprecedented drop in home prices in many areas, as well as a wide selection of inventory, to make an investment in their future,"
09/09/2008 Prediction 5.01 million units full year.
Yun "Nationally, home sales are stable now but are expected to increase in coming quarters."
10/08/2008 Prediction 5.04 million units full year.
Yun "What we’re seeing is the momentum of people taking advantage of low home prices…"
11/07/2008 Prediction 5.02 million units full year.
Yun "…we’re still in a broad period of stabilization"
12/09/2008 Prediction 4.96 million units full year.
Yun "Given the critical role of housing in an economic recovery, we’re confident sufficient (government) stimulus will be offered to bring more buyers to the market,"
ACTUAL: 4.912 million existing units sold in 2008
1/06/2009 Prediction 4.90 million units in 2008, 5.224 million units 2009.
Yun "With a proper real-estate focused (government) stimulus measure, home sales could rise more than expected, by more than 10 percent..."
2/02/2009 Prediction 4.912 million units in 2008, 5.116 million units 2009.
Yun "Forecasting is a hazardous sport at times. With so many pieces of the puzzle now moving in opposite directions, the crystal ball reading has become even cloudier."
3/02/2009 Prediction 4.927 million units.
Yun "One thing is for sure. The economy will not be able to recover in a sustainable way without home price stabilization."
4/06/2009 Prediction 4.964 million units.
Yun "The key to housing stabilization is whether or not there are sufficient buyers of foreclosed homes."
5/05/2009 Prediction 4.968 million units.
Yun "We need several months of sustained growth to demonstrate a recovery in housing."