February New Home Sales Up 5%

MBA NewsLink Staff

April 01, 2019

HUD and the Census Bureau reported sales of new single‚Äźfamily houses in February rose by 4.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,000.

Sales improved by 0.6 percent from a year ago. HUD/Census revised up sales for January but reduced significantly for December.

All four regions gained or held steady. Sales in the South rose by 1.8 percent in February to 391,000 units, seasonally annually adjusted, from 384,000 units in January and improved by nearly 7 percent from a year ago. In the West, sales were unchanged at 166,000 units in February and fell by nearly 3 percent from a year ago.

In the Midwest, sales jumped by 28.3 percent in February to 77,000 units, seasonally annually adjusted, from 60,000 units in January but fell by nearly 4 percent from a year ago. In the Northeast, sales jumped by nearly 27 percent in February to 33,000 units from 26,000 in January but fell by 28.3 percent from a year ago.

Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C., said new home sales exceeded expectations, noting that discounting helped bring back home buyers.

"While today's good news on home sales is certainly welcome, the improvement comes at a seasonally slow period and was exaggerated by seasonal adjustment," he said. "The weakness in sales during the fourth quarter and fears the Fed would continue to hike interest rates encouraged builders to slash prices late last year, particularly in the West. Prices are now below their year-ago level and that is bringing back buyers."

The report said the median sales price of new houses sold in February rose to $315,300. The average sales price rose to $379,600. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February fell to 340,000, representing a supply of 6.1 months at the current sales rate.

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