New Home Sales Soar Nearly 27% in March

The annual rate of new home sales increased 26.9% from February to March, and according to revised numbers from the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it marks the second month of increases. The monthly report (download here) said sales of new single-family houses in March 2010 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000, up 26.9% from the revised February rate of 324,000. The original February estimate was 308,000, a 2.2% decline from the January revised rate of 315,000. New home sales started to decline in November, before picking up in February. The preliminary March data is 23.8% above the annual rate estimate at the same month last year, 332,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in March 2010 was $214,000 and the average was $258,600. In addition, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 228,000, a 6.7-month supply at the current sales rate. Buyers are rushing to sign contracts before the April 30 deadline for the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit and the $6,500 credit for existing homeowners. Transactions must close by June 30. The Friday report follows data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that estimates the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales was 5.35m units in March, up 6.8% from 5.01m in February and up 16.1% from 4.61m in March 2009. Regionally, the South saw the biggest increase, 43.5% month-over-month. The March estimate of the annual rate was 231,000 sales, up 18.5% from the March 2009 estimate of 195,000. The Northeast experienced a 35.7% increase month-over-month. The rate of 38,000 sales is up 100% from the March 2009 estimate of 19,000. In the West, sales were up 5.7% from February. The rate of 93,000 sales is 25.7% above the March 2009 estimate of 74,000 sales. The Midwest also increased, up 4.3%. The March rate of 49,000 sales is an 11.4% increase from 44,000 one year ago. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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