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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales in 2013 Reach Five-Year High
by Tom Moeller  January 27, 2014

New home sales increased 16.7% last year to 430,000 units, adding to the 20.2% during 2012. Sales were at their highest level since 2008. Despite the increases, however, sales remained a fraction of the annual peak of 1.279 million averaged in 2005. During December, new home sales declined 7.0% to 414,000 (+4.5% y/y), the second month of decline. November sales were revised lower. The latest figure fell short of expectations for 457,000 sales in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. These volume numbers are quoted at seasonally adjusted annual rates.

The median price of a new home increased 8.9% last year to a record average $263,600. During December, the price nudged up to $270,200 (4.6% y/y), the highest level since April. The average price of a new home increased 11.3% last year to $317,683 but fell 6.9% (+4.1% y/y) during December to $311,400.

Poor weather crimped sales by more than one-third m/m in the Northeast to 21,000 (-27.6% y/y). Sales also fell 8.8% (+5.1% y/y) to 103,000 in the West while sales were off 7.3% (+4.1 y/y) in the South to 230,000, the second month of sharp decline. To the upside, home sales rose 17.6% (25.0% y/y) in the Midwest to 60,000.

Recent weakness in sales was, nevertheless, accompanied by monthly declines in the inventory of unsold homes, off for three months running (+14.0%). The months' sales supply of new homes rose to 5.0, the highest level in three months. The length of time to sell a new home held m/m at 3.2 months, compared to 14.0 months at the end of 2009.

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 2013 2012 2011
Total SAAR, 000s 414 445 463 4.5% 430 368 306
Northeast 21 33 33 -27.6 31 29 21
Midwest 60 51 70 25.0 60 47 45
South 230 248 273 4.1 233 196 168
West 103 113 87 5.1 106 97 72
Median Price (NSA, $) 270,200 268,500 260,300 4.6 263,600 242,108 224,317
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