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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales Slip But Prices Inch Up
by Tom Moeller  March 26, 2013

New home sales slipped 4.6% (+12.3% y/y) last month to 411,000 (AR). That compared to a downwardly revised gain to 431,000 sales during January. Consensus expectations had been for sales of 424,000. Sales declined m/m throughout most of the country. New home sales in the Northeast fell 13.3% to 26,000 (-10.3% y/y to 26,000). New home sales in the South fell 9.7% (-5.6% y/y) to 186,000, the lowest level since October. In the West, sales fell 2.1% to 141,000 but they remained up by more-than one half y/y. Sales in the Midwest added to earlier gains with a 13.7% rise (18.4% y/y) to 58,000, the highest level since November 2009.

Home prices firmed 3.0% (2.9% y/y) during February to a median of $246,800. That, however, made up just half of the prior month's decline, yet earlier months' data were revised higher. The average price of a new home sold rose to $313,700, up 14.4% y/y.

Despite these one month changes, conditions in the new home market remain tight. The inventory of unsold homes has backed up somewhat recently while the months supply of new homes rose slightly last month to 4.4. The lowest level of new home inventories was in the Northeast and West while it has backed up in the Midwest and South. (The series dates back to 1960.)

The length of time to sell a new home ticked up during February. Nevertheless, it took just 5.0 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 Feb Jan Dec Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Total (SAAR, 000s) 411 431 381 12.3 366 307 321
Northeast 26 30 29 -10.3 28 21 31
Midwest 58 51 45 18.4 49 45 45
South 186 206 211 -5.6 195 168 173
West 141 144 96 54.9 94 72 74
Median Price (NSA, $) 246,800 239,600 260,100 2.9 242,258 224,317 221,242
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