US new home sales retreat from 11-year high in April

Washington (AFP) –


US new home sales pulled back in April from an 11-year high as prices jumped, according to government data released Thursday.

The decline put a stop to three straight monthly increases but appeared larger because sales in March were much higher than originally reported.

Despite the sharp decline, the numbers were better than expected and continued to support a view of steady recovery in the housing market amid rising wages and falling unemployment.

Sales of new single-family homes tumbled 6.9 percent in April to an annual rate of 673,000 units, tumbling compared to March, which posted the highest sales since October 2007.

Economists had been expecting an even slower rate of 665,000 last month.

The April sales pace was still seven percent above that of the same month last year. The report contained revisions dating back to 2014.

Sales rose in the Northeast but fell in all other regions.

The median sales price for new homes jumped nearly 12 percent to $342,200, well above the 2018 level.

Inventories shrank modestly to 332,000 units for sale at the end of the month, representing a supply of 5.9 months at the current sales pace, up 5.4 percent from the prior month.

The April numbers follow data this week showing sales of existing homes, a far larger segment of the housing market, declined in April for the second month in a row.

But Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the new home sales figures reflected a solidifying recovery from the "disaster" in the final quarter of 2018, when sales were depressed by natural disasters and fears for the economy.

"The next few months likely will see broadly steady sales, but we're hoping for a break to the upside in the fall," when homebuyers may benefit from recent dips in interest rates, he said in a client note.