Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

markets

Sales of New Homes in U.S. Fall to Lowest Level Since August

Updated on

U.S. sales of new homes unexpectedly fell in January to the lowest level since August as borrowing costs rose and winter weather depressed demand, according to government data released Monday.

Highlights of New-Home Sales (January)

  • Single-family home sales dropped 7.8% m/m to 593k annualized pace (est. 647k) after 643k rate (revised from 625k)
  • Median sales price increased 2.5% y/y to $323,000
  • Supply of homes at current sales rate climbed to 6.1 months from 5.5 months; 301,000 new houses were on market at end of January, the most since March 2009


Key Takeaways

The results, which are volatile on a month-to-month basis, showed a 14.2 percent slump in the South, the largest decrease since March 2015 and a sharp decline in the Northeast. The two areas experienced inclement weather.

Mortgage costs are picking up and property price appreciation continues to outpace wage growth. That’s crimping affordability, especially for younger Americans and first-time buyers. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage has jumped this month to the highest level since 2014.

Nonetheless, steady hiring and elevated consumer confidence are expected to help underpin housing. 

New-home sales, tabulated when contracts get signed, account for about 10 percent of the market. They’re considered a timelier barometer than purchases of previously owned homes, which are calculated when contracts close and are reported by the National Association of Realtors.

Other Details

  • Purchases dropped in the South to a 301,000 annual rate in January, the slowest since December 2016; they fell 33.3 percent in the Northeast
  • Sales rose 15.4 percent in the Midwest and 1 percent in the West
  • Commerce Department said there was 90 percent confidence that the change in sales last month ranged from a 26.8 percent drop to an 11.2 percent increase, underscoring the volatility of the data
  • Report released jointly by the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington

— With assistance by Jordan Yadoo

(Updates with graphic.)
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