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New Home Sales and Cancellations

by Calculated Risk on 3/24/2022 02:23:00 PM

Today, in the Calculated Risk Real Estate Newsletter: New Home Sales and Cancellations

Brief excerpt:

At first glance, we might think that new home sales, as reported by the Census Bureau, would be impacted by rising mortgage rates sooner than existing home sales. This is because new home sales are reported when the contract is signed, but existing home sales are reported when the transaction closes.

However, with the sharp increase in mortgage rates, we might see more cancellations for the homebuilders, and cancellations confuse the timing issue.When looking at new home sales, we are interested in net sales, but the Census Bureau reports gross new sales. A simple equation would be:

Sales (net) = Sales (gross) – Cancellations + Sales of earlier cancellations.

In the long run, the cancellation terms balance out, and the Census Bureau numbers are what we want. In other words, Sales(net) = sales(gross). But in the short run, when cancellations increase, the Census Bureau overestimates sales; and when cancellations decrease, the Census Bureau underestimates sales.

Currently cancellation rates are below normal for the home builders. Here is a table of selected public builders and the currently reported cancellation rate (I’m still gathering data).

As an example, Toll Brothers just announced a cancellation rate of 4.3%, up from 3.3%, but well below their historical rate of 7%. During the housing bust, Toll Brothers cancellation rates peaked close to 40%.

There is much more in the newsletter.

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