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Clocking the sales of cars and homes

Stalled in the Great Recession, sales are speedy today

If you’re in the market for a big ticket item, like a new car or a new home, FRED has some data for you.

The line in red shows the median number of months it takes to sell a new home. At the height of the previous recession, it took 14 months or more for half of the home sales and 14 months or less for the other half. It’s no secret that the previous recession was special in this respect, and we see that this statistic has recovered very nicely since then.

In blue, we see a similar but not identical concept for cars: Dividing the inventory by the monthly sales gives the average number of months it takes to sell cars in current inventory. Strictly speaking, the two measures are not directly comparable, but they are relatable. Indeed, it’s no surprise that cars tend to sell faster than homes: Cars are generally a smaller investment, are less heterogeneous, and depend less on location. Yet in recent years it looks like the two measures have become much closer, largely because homes are now selling unusually fast.

How this graph was created: Search for and select “car sales ratio” and click on “Add to Graph.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, open the “Add Line” tab; search for and select “median months house on market.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: AISRSA, MNMFS

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