Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Home Sales in March at 328,000 Annual Rate

by Bill McBride on 4/24/2012 10:00:00 AM

The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 328 thousand. This was down from a revised 353 thousand SAAR in February (revised up sharply from 313 thousand). December and January were revised up too.

The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate.

Sales of new single-family houses in March 2012 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000 ... This is 7.1 percent (±20.7%) below the revised February rate of 353,000, but is 7.5 percent (±19.6%) above the March 2011 estimate of 305,000..
New Home SalesClick on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply.

Months of supply increased to 5.3 in March from 5.0 in February.

The all time record was 12.1 months of supply in January 2009.

New Home Sales, Months of Supply This is now in the normal range (less than 6 months supply is normal).
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 144,000. This represents a supply of 5.3 months at the current sales rate.
On inventory, according to the Census Bureau:
"A house is considered for sale when a permit to build has been issued in permit-issuing places or work has begun on the footings or foundation in nonpermit areas and a sales contract has not been signed nor a deposit accepted."
Starting in 1973 the Census Bureau broke this down into three categories: Not Started, Under Construction, and Completed.

New Home Sales, InventoryThis graph shows the three categories of inventory starting in 1973.

The inventory of completed homes for sale was at a record low 48,000 units in March. The combined total of completed and under construction is at the lowest level since this series started.

The last graph shows sales NSA (monthly sales, not seasonally adjusted annual rate).

In March 2012 (red column), 32 thousand new homes were sold (NSA). Last year only 28 thousand homes were sold in March. This was the third weakest March since this data has been tracked. The high for March was 127 thousand in 2005.

New Home Sales, NSAEven though sales are still very low, new home sales have clearly bottomed. New home sales have averaged 335 thousand SAAR over the last 5 months, after averaging under 300 thousand for the previous 18 months. All of the recent revisions have been up too. This was a solid report and above the consensus forecast.

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