New home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000 as of the end of December, an increase of 3.7% compared with November but down 2.4% compared with December 2017, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Regionally, new home sales increased 4% in the South and 6% in the Midwest for 2018, but were down 16% in the Northeast and 1% in the West.
An estimated 622,000 new homes were sold in 2018, an increase of 1.5% compared with 2017.
The median sales price of new home sold in December was $318,600. The average sales price was $377,000.
As of the end of December, there were about 344,000 new homes available for sale, about a 6.6 month supply at the current sales rate.
This is up from 294,000 a year earlier.
“The slight gain for 2018 new home sales reflects solid underlying demand for homeownership,” says Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a statement. “Housing affordability remains a challenge across the country, but conditions have improved in early 2019, as illustrated by the recent uptick in builder confidence.”
“Despite a period of weakness in the fall, new home sales ended the year with a small gain,” adds Robert Dietz, chief economist for NAHB. “While the December sales pace improved on a monthly basis, the current rate of sales remains off the post-Great Recession trend due to housing affordability concerns made worse by the rise in mortgage interest rates at the end of the year. We expect lower mortgage rates in the early months of 2019 will lead to additional new home demand.”