New homes sales crater 17% in February to lowest level yet
New sales of single-family homes fell nearly 17% in February from a month earlier, coming in well below analysts' estimates and at the lowest level recorded. The Commerce Department said the seasonally adjusted rate of 250,000 units last month was considerably lower than 301,000 for January, which was revised upward by 15,000 units. February sales are down 28% from a year earlier. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale was 186,000 in February, representing an 8.9 month supply. A healthy market usually holds a six month supply. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected February home sales to climb to 290,000 with estimates ranging between 240,000 and 305,000. A Briefing.com survey projected home sales of 275,000 for the month. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires expected February sales to rise 2.1% to 290,000. In the Northeast in February, new homes sales cratered, falling 57% from January, according to the joint release from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The median sales price of new homes sold last month was $202,100, down nearly 14% from January, representing the largest monthly decline yet. The Mortgage Bankers Association said earlier Wednesday mortgage applications rose 2.7% for the week ended March 18. Write to Jason Philyaw.