December Home Sales Miss Forecast By 7%

About 414,000 new homes were sold as of December, about 7% below the revised November rate of 445,000, but 4.5% above the December 2012 estimate of 396,000, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The median sales price of a new house sold in December was $270,200; the average sales price was $311,400. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 171,000 – a five-month supply based on the current sales rate.

Including sales not yet closed, an estimated 428,000 new homes were sold in 2013. This is 16.4% above the 368,000 new homes sold in 2012, according to the report.

‘December's decline in new-home sales follows elevated levels in the previous two months and means the fourth quarter was still much stronger than the third,’ says Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C., in a statement. ‘While we expect sales to gain strength in 2014, builders still face considerable constraints, including tight credit conditions for home buyers, and a limited supply of labor and buildable lots.’

‘Consumers are getting used to more realistic mortgage rates, which still remain favorable on a historical basis,’ adds David Crowe, chief economist fpor the NAHB. ‘As household formations and pent-up demand continue to emerge, we anticipate that 2014 will be a strong year for housing.’

The NAHB points out that new home sales were down more than usual in the Northeast, which was hard hit by frigid temperatures in December. Sales in the region tumbled 36.4% to their slowest pace since June 2012.

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