NAR reported that Existing Home Sales rose 3.6 percent in June. In response to this, MSNBC notes:
“The turnaround in the housing market appears finally to be here and indeed may be gaining some speed,” wrote Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc.
Stocks jumped on the news, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising above 9,000 for the first time since early January.
The NAR numbers suggest that sales have stopped falling, and this is doubtless a good thing. But the numbers really don’t support the idea that sales are rising–yet.
The reason is that the NAR Existing Home Sales number is a seasonally adjusted annualized number. This is a correct method for reporting (or at least I have reasons to think it is correct, as I am partly responsible for the development of the Existing Home Sales Methodology). But a seasonal adjustment is a statistical measure, and as such cannot be known with precision. June is a month that requires lots of adjustment, because June sales are always higher than sales in the average month. I am guessing that 3.6 percent is inside the 95 percent confidence interval of seasonally adjusted sales, so the best interpretation of the NAR release is that sales were flat or better in June.
The really good news in the report is the fact that the share of sales that are non-distressed sales is rising.
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