Housing statistics for June and July 2012 were largely positive, but we still have not seen a real pickup in sales volume for more than five years. The S&P/Case-Shiller sales pair counts, NAR’s existing home sales and the US Census housing starts remain low compared to their pre-recession levels. S&P/Case-Shiller sales pairs are updated the last Tuesday of each month. The latest data in the chart below are for June 2012, released with the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices on Auguts 28th.
For both the 10- and 20-City Composites, sales volume peak around August of each year (the high points of each line, each year) and are at their lowest around February (the low points).
From 2000 until the 2006 market peak, the 10-City Composite April sales pairs ranged from about 65,000 to 100,000 and the 20-City Composite from about 100,000 to 170,000. Once the market collapsed we saw the 2008-2012 April transaction volumes fall to about 45,000-50,000 for the 10-City Composite and 85,000-95,000 for the 20-City Composite. June 2012 reported 45,877 sales pairs for the 10-City Composite and 86.334 for the 20-City Composite, about half the pace witnessed between 2004 and 2006.
As seen by the graph below, existing home sales reported by the National Association of Realtors show the same pattern.
In early 2000, the pace of existing home sales was about 4.5 million per year. From there they rose to their late-2005 peak of 6.34 million. Once the housing crisis began sales volume fell to a level of about 3.4 million in late 2008. From there sales rose through 2009, largely due to the homebuyers’ tax credit, but reversed course again once this benefits ran out in 2010.
As of July 2012, existing home sales are still below 4.0 million, and only slightly more than their average of the prior two years. This is about the same rate seen in 1997, and far below what the housing market experienced during its 2000-2006 run-up. Since 1984, however, average existing home sales are only about 4.0 million, about the current pace.
Housing starts reported by the US Census bureau also have not moved much beyond recent lows.
The red line in the graph above is housing starts for single family homes. As of July 2012, they are at a pace of about 500,000 per year. The 30-year low for this statistic was 353,000 in March 2009, but as you can see in the graph above, starts have really not moved much in the past three years. July’s pace is still below the lows reached in the early 80-s and 90’s recessions.