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Why Did Home Sales Drop So Dramatically Last Month?

Why Did Home Sales Drop So Dramatically Last Month? | Simplifying The Market

Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Home Sales Report which covered sales in November. The report revealed that sales:

“…fell 10.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million in November (lowest since April 2014 at 4.75 million)…”

That revelation gave birth to a series of industry articles, some of which quoted pundits questioning whether the housing market was slowing. In actually, there is one rather simple explanation to much of the falloff in sales last month is likely the implementation of the “Know Before You Owe” mortgage rule, commonly known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule, which went into effect on October 3.. These regulations caused house closings to be delayed by an extra three days in November as shown in the graph below.

Average Days To Close | Simplifying The Market

Three days might sound like a minimal difference. However, since there are only approximately 20 days in a month that a closing would normally take place (Mondays through Fridays), losing three days constitutes well over 10% of all closings. These sales are not lost. They are just moved into the next month’s numbers. In a DS News article on the subject yesterday, Auction.com EVP Rick Sharga explained:

“The most likely cause for the weak sales numbers is a delay in processing loans due to the new TRID mortgage requirements imposed by the CFPB. This is the biggest change in mortgage document processing in many years, and there have been numerous reports within the industry of problems implementing the process and the new documentation that comes with it.”

So how is the housing market actually doing?

A better way to look at how well the housing market is doing is to look at the Foot Traffic Report from NAR which quantifies the number of prospective buyers that are actively looking for a home at the current time:

Foot Traffic Growing | Simplifying The Market

We can see immediately that demand to buy single family homes is increasing over the last few months – not decreasing.

Bottom Line

No matter what last month’s sales numbers show, the housing market is still doing well as demand remains strong.

About Les Sulgrove

Les is an Iowa native born in Des Moines and raised in the southwest Iowa town of Bridgewater. He has been a resident of Des Moines since 1982 and has been married to his wife Linda for over 35 years. Together they have 3 grown children, 7 grandchildren and make their home on Des Moines south side. He has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1990 and is Vice President at VIA Group, REALTORS®. Les is the 2011 Past President of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAAR) and received the award of Salesperson of the Year by DMAAR in 2007 for his involvement and service to the Association. Additionally, he is active at the Iowa Association of REALTORS® and serves on local, state and national committees. He also owns and operates the national technology networking group CyberProfessionals. This group of real estate professionals meets twice annually across the United States to learn from each other and share new marketing ideas with heavy emphasis on current and future technologies and their use in the real estate business. Les’ hobbies include golf, photography and sarcastic humor. He and Linda spend many Saturday mornings from Spring to Fall at the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market. He enjoys spoiling his grandchildren at every opportunity.

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