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U.S. New Home Sales Fall But Still Exceed Estimates

U.S. New Home Sales Fall But Still Exceed Estimates
4/24/2012 10:22 AM ET

New home sales in the U.S. showed a notable decrease from February to March but nevertheless came in substantially higher than most economists had predicted.

According to figures released by the Commerce Department on Tuesday, new sales of single-family houses came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000 in March.

The March rate reflects a 7.1 percent drop from the revised February rate of 353,000. However, the February revisions brought the new home sales rate for the month up significantly from the 313,000 initially reported.

Most economists had expected new home sales to rise from the initial February report, predicting a March sales rate of 318,000.

The revised figures put the February sales rate at its highest level since November of 2009.

The median sales price for a single-family home ticked downward to $234,500 in March, a 1 percent drop from the $236,900 posted in February.

Regional data showed a 3.1 percent increase in new home sales in the South and a 7.7 percent increase in sales in the Northeast.

In contrast, new home sales in the West tumbled by 27 percent, while Midwestern new home sales were down 20 percent.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 144,000, representing 5.3 months of supply at the present sales rate.

Last Thursday, the National Association of Realtors released a separate report showing an unexpected decrease in existing home sales in the month of March.

NAR said existing home sales fell 2.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.48 million in March from an upwardly revised 4.60 million in February.

The drop surprised economists, who had expected existing home sales to edge up to 4.62 million from the 4.59 million originally reported for the previous month.

by RTT Staff Writer

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