New Home Sales Slide for Fourth Straight Month
An increasing number of houses sit empty and remain unsold, as the rate of new home sales continues on a downward trend that began in November, according to a joint release by the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (download here). The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new single-family house sales was 308,000 in February, a 2.2% decline from January’s revised rate of 315,000 and 13% below the February 2009 estimate of 354,000. January’s rate topped the original estimate of 309,000. New home sales were up 6.2% from September to October, before declining in November (11.3%), December (7.6%) and January (11.2%). The only region to experience an increase in the sales rate was the West, where the annual rate of 93,000 homes was a 20.8% increase from 77,000 in January. February’s rate was also 34.8% higher than one year ago. The Northeast again took the biggest dive month-over-month dive. The annual sales rate of 28,000 was down 20% from 35,000 in January, which is even from one year ago. In the Midwest, the rate of 41,000 was down 18% from 50,000 in January and down 18% from February 2009. In the South, the sales rate of 146,000 was down 4.6% from January’s rate of 153,000 and down 29.5% from one year ago. The median sales price of new houses sold in February 2010 was $220,500 and the average price was $282,600. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 236,000, putting the current housing supply at 9.2 months at the current sales rate. Last month the inventory rate was 234,000 houses, representing a 9.1-month supply. Write to Austin Kilgore.