Home sales in expansions and recessions

housing activity over the cycle

LET’S LOOK AT NEW HOME SALES. Today the U.S. Census Bureau joint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released new home sales estimates through September of 2017.

New home sales have been grinding higher along with housing starts, though they dipped last month (maybe). This month’s report was the strongest since 2007, as I tweeted earlier today:

I’m not going to recreate that spooky graph (see here for the theme), but rather try some different plots. Let’s compare how new home sales (and housing starts and employment) have trended over expansions and recessions in the United States.

No R code today, but if there’s interest I’ll follow up with code for the data wrangling and creation of these plots.


Here I’ll share a couple plots comparing how home sales have evolved over the business cycle. We’ll use the National Bureau of Economic Research’s business cycle dates.

Housing starts over the cycle

Let’s also compare housing starts over the cycle. First, let’s just look at the level of starts for both all units and then 1-unit properties.

New home sales

Finally, let’s look at new home sales across the cycle.



Let’s compare how new home sales changed over the cycle. This chart shows the difference in monthly new home sales from the initial value in the cycle.


Alternatively, we could break it down by cycle with facets:


I’m a macroeconomist, so cycles are pretty interesting to me. I’ve been working on something a bit more technical (wonkier) than usual, but you might find it interesting. These cyclical graphs may be useful when we get there.