5 Takeaways From the Latest New Home Sales Report

by Peter Thomas Ricci

The Census Bureau came out with its latest report on new home sales this week; what were its main findings?

The U.S. Census Bureau released its latest findings on new construction housing this week with a fresh report on the nation’s new single-family home sales.

A deceptively succinct report, the Census Bureau’s new-home findings always suggest many interesting things about where housing is heading; here are the five big takeaways from the report:

1. Yearly Bounce – At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000, new home sales were up 18.6 percent from April and 16.9 percent from May 2013; that not only exceeded analyst expectations, but was the highest level for new home sales in six years.

2. YTD Erraticism – Of course, this being the nation’s post-bubble new construction market, things are not quite what they seem; even with those strong monthly and yearly increases, new home sales are running just 1 percent above 2013’s levels on year-to-date measures.

3. Prices Rising – In what will be no surprise to anyone who has followed our coverage of the new home market, prices for new construction continue to increase. The median sales price for new homes in May was $282,000, an increase of 6.8 percent from May 2013, while average sales price rose 3.7 percent to $319,200.

4. So Goes Inventory… – New home inventory in May was up 16 percent to 4.5-months supply; for some time now, analysts have argued that more inventory would produce more sales, and though one month’s returns hardly imply a trend, it’s certainly interesting to see May’s sales increase like they have in light of inventory’s rise.

5. Distressing Gap is Alive and Well – An 18.6 percent increase is nothing to scoff at, but there is still sizable room for improvement on the new home sales front, as the latest “Distressing Gap” graph from Calculated Risk demonstrates; once those two lines are in-sync, we’ll know that housing downturn is truly behind us.

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