Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Home Sales decline to 481,000 Annual Rate in March

by Bill McBride on 4/23/2015 10:12:00 AM

The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 481 thousand.

The previous months were revised up by a total of 35 thousand (SA).

"Sales of new single-family houses in March 2015 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 11.4 percent below the revised February rate of 543,000, but is 19.4 percent above the March 2014 estimate of 403,000."
New Home SalesClick on graph for larger image.

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

Even with the increase in sales over the previous two years, new home sales are still close to the bottoms for previous recessions.

The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply.

New Home Sales, Months of SupplyThe months of supply increased in March to 5.3 months.

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

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 213,000. This represents a supply of 5.3 months at the current sales rate."
New Home Sales, InventoryOn 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.

The third graph shows the three categories of inventory starting in 1973.

The inventory of completed homes for sale is still low, and the combined total of completed and under construction is also low.

New Home Sales, NSAThe last graph shows sales NSA (monthly sales, not seasonally adjusted annual rate).

In March 2015 (red column), 45 thousand new homes were sold (NSA). Last year 39 thousand homes were sold in March.  This is the highest for March since 2008.

The high for March was 127 thousand in 2005, and the low for March was 28 thousand in 2011.

This was below expectations of 510,000 sales in March, however with the upward revisions to previous months, this is still a solid start for 2015.  I'll have more later today.