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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales Edge Lower; Recent Months Revised Upward
by Tom Moeller February 24, 2012

Sales were bolstered by extremely warm temperatures, but total new home sales slipped 0.9% last month to 321,000 following four months of sizable gain. The figures for 2H'11 were revised up. Sales beat Consensus expectations for 315,000 but they remained down by three-quarters versus the 2005 peak. The median price of a new single family home improved slightly m/m to $217,100 (-9.6% y/y). The average home price fell 1.2% m/m to $261,600 (-5.1% y/y).

Sales performance continued to vary across the country. Sales in the West fell 10.6% but were up 5.6% y/y while in the Midwest sales dropped by one-half versus December and were down 11.9% y/y. Working the other way was an 11.1% rise (-39.4% y/y) in sales in the Northeast and a 9.3% rise (15.3% y/y) in the South.

The inventory of unsold homes reached another series low (-18.8% y/y) and at 5.6 months of sales was near the cycle-low. Low inventories of unsold homes are fairly common across the country. The length of time to sell a new home ticked up m/m to a median 7.1 months versus 11.4 months in 2010.

The data in this report are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure from Action Economics is available in the AS1REPNA database.

U.S. New Home Sales Jan Dec Nov Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total (SAAR, 000s) 321 324 318 3.5 305 321 374
  Northeast 20 18 16 -39.4 21 31 31
  Midwest 37 49 51 -11.9 44 45 54
  South 188 172 182 15.3 168 173 202
  West 76 85 69 5.6 70 74 87
Median Price (NSA, $) 217,100 216,500 213,100 -9.6 224,042 221,242 214,500
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