Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000 units in March, according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. The inventory of new homes for sale held virtually unchanged at just 151,000 units in March, which amounts to a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace.
"This is the second-best sales number we've seen since early 2010, and a good sign of the continued, gradual headway that our industry is making toward recovery as more buyers jump off the fence in time to take advantage of today's low interest rates and prices," said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C.
Regionally, new-home sales activity was mixed in March, with the Northeast and South posting double-digit increases and the Midwest and West posting corresponding declines. Sales gained 20.6 percent in the Northeast and 19.4 percent in the South, while falling 12.1 percent in the Midwest and 20.9 percent in the West.
"The latest sales report is right in line with our forecast for continued, modest increases in home prices and sales through 2013," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "At this point, we are about half-way back to what would be considered a 'normal' level of sales activity as challenges related to supplies of credit, building materials, lots and labor are slowing the pace at which builders can build and sell new homes."