A month ago we showed a chart that, in our humble opinion, summarized all that is wrong with the US housing market. The chart in question showed the April breakdown of existing home sales on a Y/Y basis by pricing bucket.
Needless to say, what the chart showed was the symptomatic, and schizophrenic, breakdown of US housing into two camps: the housing market for the 1%, those costing $750K and above, where the bulk of transactions are mostly between non-first time buyers, and typically take place as all cash transactions, and the market for “everyone else” which continues to deteriorate.
Moments ago the NAR released its May data, which on first blush was widely lauded as bullish: the topline print came at a 4.9% increase, rising from 4.65MM to 4.89MM, above the 4.74MM expected. Great news… if only on the surface. So what happens when one drills down into the detail? As usual, we focused on the last slide of the NAR breakdown, located at the very end of the supplementary pdf for good reason, because what it shows is hardly as bullish.
So how does this “housing recovery” in which the NAR has proclaimed the “sales decline is over” look on a granular basis.
The answer is below, and it is even worse than the April data. It also explains why first time buyers have dropped to even further cycle lows of just 27%, down from 29% both a month and year ago.
This is bad because while in April there was a modest increase sales in house buckets from $250 all the way up to $1MM +, in May the only bucket that had an increase in sales from a year ago was that exclusively reserve for the ultra-richest, i.e., those who benefit the most from the Fed’s non-trickle downing wealth effect policies. In fact, on a price bucket basis, the May data was unformly worse than April!
The logical follow up question: what is the total percentage of sales by given price bucket? The answer, once again, below.
Housing recovery? Maybe for the richest, and even they are far less exuberant about purchasing $1MM+ mansions. For everyone else, enjoy “plunging” hedonically-adjusted LCD TV prices. Everything else is, well, noise.