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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales Edge Lower Again But Prices Firm
by Tom Moeller  March 23, 2012

New home sales slipped last month. Moreover, what's been a sideways trend in new home sales contrasts with the improvement in existing home sales demonstrated in Wednesday's report. Sales of new homes declined 1.6% during February to 313,000 from a downwardly revised 318,000 in January. Earlier months' figures, however, were revised slightly higher. The latest sales missed Consensus expectations for 325,000 and they remained down by three-quarters versus the 2005 peak.

Sales performance continued to vary across the country. The total's decline was led by a 7.2% drop (-1.2% y/y) in the South followed by a 2.4% decline (+29.0% y/y) in the Midwest. These declines were countered by a 14.3% sales gain in the Northeast and an 8.0% rise (32.8% y/y) in the West.

The median price of a new single family home recovered 8.3% m/m to $233,700 (6.2% y/y), the highest level since June. The average price of a new home showed a lesser 2.2% m/m gain to $267,700 (1.9% y/y), its highest since July.

The length of time to sell a new home increased slightly m/m to a median 7.6 months, but remained below the 8.3 of last year, 11.4 months in 2010 and 12.0 months in 2009. The inventory of unsold homes held at the series low (-17.1% y/y) and, at 5.8 months, remained near the cycle-low. Low inventories of unsold homes are fairly common across the country.

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 Feb Jan Dec Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total (SAAR, 000s) 313 318 336 11.4 313 321 374
 Northeast 24 21 19 26.3 21 31 31
 Midwest 40 41 57 29.0 45 45 54
 South 168 181 174 -1.2 169 173 202
 West 81 75 86 -32.8 72 74 87
Median Price (NSA, $) 233,700 215,700 218,500 6.2 224,308 221,242 214,500
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