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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales Down Again
by Tom Moeller March 26, 2008

New single family home sales fell 1.8% during February to 590,000 after a 1.6% January decline that was slightly less than reported initially. The decline dropped sales to the lowest level since 1995 and they were down 57.5% since the peak in July of 2005. A sales rate of 576,000 was the Consensus expectation for sales last month.

By region, sales in the Northeast were by far the weakest last month and dropped 40.3% (-19.6% y/y). Sales in the Midwest also continued quite weak and fell 6.4% during February (-42.5% y/y).

In the West sales added a slight 0.7% (-28.3% y/y) to the 5.0% January increase while sales in the South recovered all of the January decline and rose 5.7% (-27.9% y/y).

The median price for a new single family home rose a firm 8.2% to $244,100 after a 0.2% January downtick. Prices were down 7.0% from the early 2007 peak. That was much less of a decline point to point reported last month due to the February rise and upward revisions.

The number of new homes for sale fell 2.1% last month, continuing a recent decline. Since the July '06 peak the number of new homes on the market was down 17.8%.

Continuing the recent trend, the decline in the inventory of homes for sale did not keep pace with the weakness in home sales. At the current low sales rate, the 9.8 months' supply of homes on the market was more than double the rate for all of 2005 and it was the highest since 1981.

Falling House Prices and Rising Time on the Market from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

US New Homes February January Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total Sales (SAAR, 000s) 590 601 -29.8% 774 1,049 1,279
Median Price (NSA, $) 244,100 225,600 -2.7% 243,500 243,067 234,208
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