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New home sales rebound 25% in February

Positives news after a rough start to the year

Sales of new single-family houses in February 2015 picked back up to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000, 24.8% above last year’s estimate of 432,000, the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This is 7.8% above the revised January rate of 500,000. It was originally posted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000, only 5.3% January 2014’s estimate of 457,000, which was considered a weak level.

The report brings positive news for the housing market after a series of negative housing market indicators at the start of the year.

Looking back at the start of the year, January was a bad month for housing starts, completions and permits, with privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in January coming in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,053,000.

And in February privately owned housing starts plummeted 17%, down to an annualized 897,000 from the revised January estimate of 1,081,000, with drops in the Northeast, Midwest and West leading the collapse.

The median sales price of new houses sold in February 2015 was $275,500; the average sales price was $341,000.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 210,000. This represents a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate.

Monday’s existing-home sales edged back up 1.2% in February after last month’s plummet, but tight inventory levels pushed price growth to its fastest pace in a year, the National Association of Realtors said.

Homebuilder Lennar Corporation (LEN) reported results for its first quarter on March 19, beating earnings expectations despite difficult weather situations and tough housing markets.

And the CEO predicts a positive future for homebuilding.

"Despite severe weather conditions which constrained production and sales in parts of the country, the housing market continued its slow and steady recovery. Early signals from this year's spring selling season indicate that the housing market is improving, and disappointing single family starts and permits numbers should rebound shortly. The sizable production deficit of the past years continues to drive demand improvement in spite of the constrained mortgage market," said Stuart Miller, CEO of Lennar Corporation.

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