New estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show new residential construction increased in March. Privately owned housing starts rose 2.8 percent overall and construction of new single-family homes was up 6 percent from the month before. After a rocky winter, the improvement is a welcome sign but the gains were still less than economists had forecast for the month. Also in the report, permits to build new homes fell, though the decline was mostly due to a drop in authorizations to build multi-family housing. Single-family authorizations – which are a good indicator of future home building activity – were up 0.5 percent. Overall, new residential construction was at its fastest pace of the year in March. March also marked the second consecutive month in which construction of single-family homes increased, after falling in both December and January. More here.
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This year’s home buyer is putting practicality before style when searching for a new home, according to a recent survey of builders from the National Association of Home Builders. Builders say the top features they’re likely to include in a new single-family home are walk-in closets, low-e windows, laundry rooms, and great rooms. Energy efficiency is a common theme, important to buyers due to the money it can save over the long term. Energy-Star rated appliances, programmable thermostats, and Energy-Star windows are all near the top of the list. Among the other features builders named, granite countertops, double sinks, and a central island are popular in new-home kitchens, while 9-foot ceilings, a front porch, outdoor lighting, and linen closets in the bathrooms are also features likely to be included in new houses this year. Kevin Kelly, NAHB’s chairman, said newly constructed homes can be built to suit the specific requirements of today’s buyer and now is a great time to consider purchasing a new home. More here.
Sales of new single-family homes fell 3.3 percent in February, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. With the drop, new home sales are now 1.1 percent below year-before levels. February’s decline was bigger than economists expected but matches recent economic and housing data showing slumping consumer confidence and slower sales and construction activity this winter. Harsh weather has been blamed for much of the downturn and February’s 32.4 percent sales plunge in the Northeast supports that theory. On the other hand, sales also fell in the South and West, where weather was less of a factor. Still, the housing market is expected to rebound as the weather warms and the sales season begins. The median sales price of new homes sold in February was $261,800; the average price was $317,500. At the current sales rate, there was a 5.2-month supply of new homes for sale at the end of the month. More here.
Sales of new single-family houses surged to a five-and-a-half year high in January, jumping 9.6 percent from an upwardly revised December estimate. The sales spike was welcome news after harsh winter weather led to the slowing of a number of economic indicators during the month. It was also unexpected. Surveyed economists forecast a slight dip in sales for the month, expecting them to fall rather than rising to their highest level since July 2008. January sales were 2.2 percent above year-before levels and reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units. Regionally, new home sales saw double-digit increases in the Northeast, West, and South, while tumbling 17.2 percent in the bitterly cold Midwest. The median sales price of new houses sold in January was $260,100; the average price was $322,800. Also, there was a 4.7-month supply of new homes available for sale at the end of month. More here.
Sales of new single-family homes spiked in August, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales were up 7.9 percent above July’s rate and 12.6 percent above last year’s estimates. The improvement is a welcome change following a nearly 14 percent plunge in July, which was the largest drop in more than three years. And, though August’s estimates fell slightly below economists’ expectations, the late summer lull has been caused by temporary factors, according to analysts. Merrill Lynch, for example, is forecasting that builders will sell 438,000 new homes this year and that sales will rise by more than 20 percent next year. The government report also showed that the median sales price of new houses sold in August was $254,600; the average sales price was $318,900. There is a 5-month supply of new homes available for sale at the current sales rate. More here and here.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, permits to build new single-family homes rose 3 percent in August, reaching their highest level since 2008. The improvement, combined with a 7 percent jump in single-family housing starts, provides more evidence of a consistent and sustained recovery in the residential housing market. And, in addition to the obvious benefits to housing, gains in new-home construction are closely tied to the broader economy. In fact, economists’ estimate that every new home built leads to the creation of three jobs for a year. Demand for new homes is expected to continue, as household formation numbers recover from historic lows. More here and here.