New Home Sales Data Points to Future Growth

New home sales in March suggested good things for the sector going forward.

The latest data on new home sales from the Census Bureau shows that though the market for new housing remains depressed, it is clearly moving toward greener pastures.

For March 2012, new single-family home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000, according to the bureau, which is a 7.5 percent increase from March 2011.

Though the data is 7.1 percent below February’s rate of 353,000, that is mainly because February’s totals were dramatically revised upward from their original 313,000.

The median sales price of March’s new houses sold was $234,500, and the average sales price was $291,200.

One especially positive aspect of the bureau’s report was its finding on new-home supply, which had peaked at 12.1 months of supply in January 2009. For March, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale was 144,000, or a 5.3 months supply at the current sales rate.

The normal level for new-home supply is less than six months, so it, like many other aspects of the housing market, is gradually returning to pre-boom, average levels.

In a post on the data, Bill McBride of Calculated Risk noted that the data suggests, like February’s, that the new-home market is on the path to recovery.

“Even though sales are still very low, new home sales have clearly bottomed,” McBride wrote. “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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