Interest Rate Roundup

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New home sales inch higher in April

We just got the new home sales figures for the month of April. What did they show?

* New home sales rose 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000 from 351,000 in March. These numbers were somewhat worse than expected -- economists were looking for sales of 360,000.

* The raw number of homes for sale continued to decline, dropping to 297,000 from 310,000 in March. That is the lowest reading going all the way back to May 2001 (295,000). The months supply at current sales pace indicator of inventory fell to 10.1 from 10.6.

* The median price of a new home rose 3.7% on the month -- to $209,700 from $202,200 in March. But prices were down 14.9% year-over-year, the second-biggest decline in U.S. history behind January's 15% drop.

Stagnant. Stuck in the mud. Flatlining. All of these words sum up the current state of the housing market. We aren't seeing a huge upswing in market conditions. But we aren't seeing things fall apart again, either.

Falling prices are clearly spurring some buyers to action. New home prices fell at the second-fastest rate in U.S. history, helping sales inch up. The supply of new homes continues to fall as well -- with for-sale inventories running at the lowest level in eight years. But there is no evidence whatsoever of a renewed housing boom, just a gradual increase in activity in some markets, brought about by lower prices, lower mortgage rates, and tax and builder incentives.


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