HUD/Census Report November New Home Sales Jump 17%

Catching up from the recent partial government shutdown, sort of, HUD and the Census Bureau yesterday reported new home sales in November jumped by 17 percent from October, the strongest performance since last March.

The report said November new single-family home sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000, 16.9 percent higher than October’s revised rate of 562,000, but 7.7 percent lower from a year ago (712,000).

The report had originally been scheduled to come out Dec. 27 but was delayed by the partial government shutdown, which ended after 35 days on Jan. 25. The next new homes sales report for December data was slated to come out Jan. 25; HUD and Census have not indicated when that report will go out.

Regionally, , sales fell only in the West, dipping by 5.9 percent to 160,000 units, seasonally adjusted, in November from 170,000 in October and fell by 25 percent from a year ago.

In the South, sales jumped by 20.6 percent in November to 374,000 units, seasonally adjusted, from 310,000 units in October but fell by 0.8 percent from a year ago. In the Midwest, sales jumped by 30.5 percent in November to 77,000 units from 59,000 in October but fell by 2.5 percent from a year ago. Sales doubled in the Northeast in November to 46,000 units from 23,000 units in October and rose by 15 percent from a year ago.

The report said the median sales price of new houses sold in November rose to $302,400. The average sales price rose to $362,400. HUD/Census estimated new homes for sale at the end of November rose by 2,000 to 330,000, representing a supply of 6.0 months at the current sales rate.

“With higher interest rates making potential buyers hesitant, builders are offering larger discounts, which is apparent in the price data,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C.

Vitner said buyers were likely enticed by significant discounting. “Over the past year, the median price has fallen 11.9%, which equates to a $41,000 drop,” he said. “Much of that discounting has been in the West, where sales slowed. Discounts also spurred sales in the South.”