April new home sales rose 7.3%
[Update 1: Adds NAHB, Capital Economics quotes.] Sales of new single-family homes rose 7.3% in April from a month earlier, easily topping most analyst estimates. The Commerce Department said the seasonally adjusted rate of 323,000 units last month was up from 301,000 for March, which was revised upward slightly. April new home sales were down 23.1% from 420,000 a year earlier. In February, new home sales fell 17% from the prior month to 250,000, the lowest level ever recorded. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of last month was 175,000 in February, representing a 6.5-month supply and at the lowest level in decades. A healthy housing market usually carries a six-month supply of single-family homes. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected home sales of 300,000 for April with a range of estimates between 285,000 and 320,000. A Briefing.com survey projected home sales of 290,000 for the month. The median sales price of new homes sold in April was $217,900, up 4.6% from March. Jerry Howard, chief executive officer of the National Association of Home Builders, believes the housing market is still "bouncing along the bottom." He said on Fox News Tuesday morning that prices, as well as home sales, can only go up from here. Capital Economics said April's increase in sales "may even underestimate the recent rebound since the data exclude condo sales, which are probably performing better than sales of new single-family homes." "Nonetheless, total new home sales are still worryingly close to record lows," analysts at the Toronto-based research firm said. Write to Jason Philyaw.