Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Are We There Yet for Homebuilders? - Part IV

Another issue to grapple with when buying the Homebuilders is the number of new home sales relative to previous peaks. As you can see in the chart below, if you declare a bottom for housing at the current level, one of the assumptions that you are incorporating into your analysis is that you are comfortable with the fact that the number of new home sales will trough above the peak of the last cycle.

New Home Sales Monthly (January 1963 - August 2007)

This is an important decision because during the last three cycles, new home sales never went above a 900,000 annual rate. During this cycle, they went much higher and peaked at an annual rate of 1.389 million in July 2005. If this extra demand was real demand, due to higher population growth or a more affluent population buying second homes, then this is fine. If it is speculator demand, then we are in big trouble.

So it remains to be proven whether the trough of this cycle should be above or near the peak of the last three when referencing new home sales. Months supply of new homes solves this problem in some ways since it transforms the data into time. If that is the case then we may not be at the trough yet as months of inventory peaked at much higher levels at the troughs of previous down cycles. (9.4 in January 1991, and 11.6 in January 1980.)

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