Sales of new single-family homes in America rose 4.0 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694K units, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That was the largest monthly gain since November, better than economists expected, and the prior month’s figure was revised higher. Much of the strength was due to a 28.3 percent spike in the Western region of the country last month, while sales edged higher in the South (+0.8 percent) and fell in the Midwest (-2.4 percent) and the Northeast (-54.8 percent). Such figures highlight just how volatile new home sales can be on a month-to-month basis. However, longer-term trends in this data series are worth monitoring because sales tend to head sharply lower ahead of a recession.
Elsewhere in the report, the inventory of new single-family homes in America was unchanged in March, and months’ supply slid to 5.2 based on the current (faster) sales pace. Moreover, the median selling price of new houses sold in March lifted to $337,200, 4.8 percent higher compared to this same period last year. Despite elevated borrowing costs and the upward pressure on home values caused by supply constraints, many people still want to purchase a home, according to the latest consumer confidence report from The Conference Board, also released this morning. Specifically, on top of a broad gain in optimism this month, a record 7.8 percent of surveyed Americans said that they plan to buy a home during the next six months.
Sources: Econoday, Census Bureau, Conference Board, Bloomberg, FRBSLPost author: Charles Couch