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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales in Partial Rebound
by Carol Stone  May 23, 2012

New home sales recovered 3.3% in April to 343,000. This gain partially reversed March's 7.3% fall, revised from 7.1% reported originally, and put April up 9.9% from a year ago. The April volume exceeded the consensus expectations for 335,000. Prior months' volumes were revised somewhat higher. These sales volume figures are quoted at seasonally adjusted annual rates.

The regional pattern of sales was mixed. There were huge gains in the Midwest, 28.2% to 50,000, and West, 27.5% to 88,000. These both reversed similar drops in March. In the Northeast, April sales increased 7.7% to 28,000, but in the South they fell 10.6% to 177,000.

The median price of a new single family home rose 0.7% m/m to $235,700 from March's $234,000; March was revised downward slightly from $234,500 reported last month, but prior months were revised upward. April's median is 4.9% ahead of a year ago.& At the same time, the average price fell 1.1% in April, interrupting a four-month uptrend.

The length of time to sell a new home edged up to 8.1 months in April from 8.0 in March; this marked a fourth consecutive monthly increase from 6.7 months in December. Despite this slowing, the time from completion to sale remains less than in April of 2011, which saw a median 8.9 months, and April of 2010 at 14.0 months.& Recent construction has also been slow, of course, so that the inventory of unsold homes remains very low, at 146,000 units nationwide, just barely above the all-time low of 144,000 in March. This is a 5.1-month supply at the current sales rate.

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

U.S. New Home Sales April Mar Feb Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total (SAAR, 000s) 343 332 358 9.9 307 321 374
Northeast 28 26 26 16.7 21 31 31
Midwest 50 39 48 22.0 45 45 54
South 177 198 193 4.7 169 173 202
West 88 69 91 12.8 72 74 87
Median Price (NSA, $) 235,700 234,000 237,700 4.9 224,317 221,242 214,500
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