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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales and Prices Improve during 2012
by Tom Moeller  January 25, 2013

For all of last year, new home sales rose 19.2% from 2011 to 366,000 units. However, during December sales of new homes fell to 369,000 (AR) from 398,000 during November, revised from 377,000. Consensus expectations had been for sales of 383,000 for last month. Sales were down m/m throughout most of the country. In the Northeast, sales fell to 24,000 (+20.0% y/y) and reversed the November gain. For the year, however, sales rose by nearly one-third versus 2011 to 28,000. In the South sales fell to 208,000 last month (+15.6% y/y) but for the year sales rose to 195,000. New home sales in the West were off 11.1% (-1.2% y/y) and during all of 2012 new home sales rose by nearly one-third to 94,000. Offsetting these m/m declines was a 21.3% m/m rise (-21.7% y/y) in sales in the Midwest to 57,000. For all of 2012 sales rose 7.6% to 49,000.

House prices continued to improve. The 1.3% December rise to $248,000 pulled them up 13.9% y/y and 7.5% for all of last year to $241,033.

The inventory of unsold homes nudged up in December but y/y it fell 0.7% to a record low. (The series dates back to 1960.) The decline in home inventories stretches across the country although there was a modest bump up last year in the West.

The length of time to sell a new home also tumbled. During December, it took 4.6 months to sell a home, down from the 7.1 month average for all of last year. These figures compare to more than 14 months at the beginning of 2010.

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 Dec Nov Oct Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Total (SAAR, 000s) 369 398 364 8.8 366 307 321
Northeast 24 34 23 20.0 28 21 31
Midwest 57 47 54 -1.7 49 45 45
South 208 227 185 15.6 195 168 173
West 80 90 102 -1.2 94 72 74
Median Price (NSA, $) 248,900 245,600 243,100 13.9 241,033 224,317 221,242
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