New home sales in surprise rebound

Census Bureau says sales of newly built homes rose nearly 5% in February. Analysts wary of long-term recovery.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)
By Ben Rooney, staff writer

What do you think of Geithner's plan to enlist private firms in the bank bailout?
  • It's good - we need their money
  • It's bad - it won't work
Mortgage Rates
30 yr fixed 3.80%
15 yr fixed 3.20%
5/1 ARM 3.84%
30 yr refi 3.82%
15 yr refi 3.20%

Find personalized rates:

Rates provided by

NEW YORK ( -- Sales of newly constructed homes rose unexpectedly in February, rebounding nearly 5% after sinking to the lowest level on record in January, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that new home sales rose 4.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 337,000 in February from a revised 322,000 in January. It was the first increase since July, and comes after sales tumbled to an all-time low in the previous month.

Economists were expecting a sales rate of 300,000, according to consensus estimates compiled by

While February purchases were up from January's record low, the sales rate is still down more than 41% from February 2008, when sales were an estimated 572,000.

The report is "generally a good sign," said Andreas Carbacho-Burgos, an economist at Moody's "But it's definitely not enough to say that the housing market is starting to recover," he said.

Carbacho-Burgos noted that new home sales have recorded monthly increases several times over the past few years even as the overall trend in sales declined.

"This is only a single month's worth of data," he said. "You need at least three months of increases before you can say the market is recovering."

The report also showed that the median sales price of new houses sold in February was $200,900, down 18% from $245,300 a year ago. That was the biggest year-over-year decline in history, according to real estate analysts at Weiss Research.

The estimated number of new homes for sale at the end of February was a seasonally adjusted 330,000. At the current sales pace, it would take more than a year to sell through that inventory, according to the report.

Wednesday's report was the latest in a series of better-than-expected readings on the housing market. But many analysts remain wary of the prospects for a long-term recovery.

"The worst of the drop in sales is over but a sustained a way off still," wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, in a research note.

On Monday, the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales rose 5.1% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units from a rate of 4.49 million in January.

Last week, the Commerce Department reported that initial construction of new homes surged 22% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000, up from a revised 477,000 in January. It was the first time housing starts increased since June.

Meanwhile, a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed Wednesday that the number of Americans applying for home loans jumped 30% last week, driven mostly by applications to refinance existing loans.  To top of page

Find mortgage rates in your area

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.