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New-home sales jump up

U.S. home sales continue to beat expectations in the early spring. New-homes sales jumped up in March to the second fastest pace in a decade, the U.S. Census reported this week.  

Sales of newly built homes were estimated at an annual rate of 621,000, up 5.8 percent over the February level and 15.6 percent higher year over year. This pace was the second only to July, where the annual rate of sales was estimated at 622,000.

newhomedataLast week the National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales were running at an annual pace of 5.71 million in March, a decade high.

“The fact that we have seen rising sales numbers in the past couple months, even while we have still seen limited inventories, suggests that what comes to market can sell and what comes to market is selling very quickly,” said Danielle Hale, NAR’s managing director of housing research.

With the strong data, the trade group plans boost its projection for existing sales next year. NAR had predicted that existing home sales would end the year at 5.57 million, an increase of 2.3 percent from 2016.

“We are going to come out with a revised forecast tomorrow when we release out pending home sales data,” Hale told Scotsman Guide News on Tuesday. “There is going to be a change in light of the recent strong data that we have seen.”

One caveat about the new-home sales data is that it is based on a relatively small sampling of contract signings, and the national reading has a margin of error of 15 percent. New-home sales have increased over the past four months, however.

“The March sales numbers are the second highest on record since the Great Recession, which is especially encouraging considering the poor weather conditions throughout many parts of the country,” said National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

“With tight existing home inventory, rising household formations and continued job creation, we can expect further growth in new home sales moving forward,” Dietz said.

Regionally, new-home sales declined only in the Midwest over the month of February, but sales are up solidly year over year in all regions, the Census data suggests. 

The inventory of new homes for sale was 268,000 in March, a 5.2-month supply at the current sales pace, the Census Bureau reported. The median sales price of new houses sold was $315,100. 


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