Today’s headline from CNBC was New Home Sales Rise But Less Than Expected. Here’s the “news” according to them:
New U.S. single-family home sales rose in November but to a lower- than- expected rate , a government report showed on Thursday, highlighting the weakness in the housing market even as the broader economic recovery gains momentum.
The Commerce Department said sales increased 5.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 290,000 unit annual rate after a downwardly revised 275,000 unit pace in October.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales rising to a 300,000 unit pace in November from a previously reported 283,000 unit rate.
Ever skeptical, I thought I’d check out what the Commerce Department had to say in their press release. Here’s their version:
Sales of new single-family houses in November 2010 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 290,000, according toestimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.This is 5.5 percent (±16.2%)* above the revised October rate of 275,000, but is 21.2 percent (±13.3%) below theNovember 2009 estimate of 368,000.
Sales of new single-family houses in November 2010 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 290,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 5.5 percent (±16.2%)* above the revised October rate of 275,000, but is 21.2 percent (±13.3%) below the November 2009 estimate of 368,000.
Note that the 5.5% “rise” is month-to-month, which is meaningless with that kind of margin of error. The margin of error is also high for year-over-year, but we can at least be pretty darn certain that sales are in fact down.
This does of course beg the question as to why I even bother checking CNBC in the first place. In my defense, it’s a great place to look for stories. The only difficulty is that in order to get to the truth of the matter, one usually has to go to other sources.
As for the take away: new home sales remain at record low levels- and are likely to stay that way for awhile.