Economic Snapshot: Huge YOY gains in new home sales

We only have two months of data on new and existing home sales, but there is much to be optimistic about for 2015.

New home sales

Sales of new single-family homes in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000, 7.8 percent above the revised January rate of 500,000 and 24.8 percent above the February 2014 estimate of 432,000.

Economists originally expected new home sales to come in at 475,000 in February.

The median sales price of new homes sold in February was $275,000 and the average sales price was $341,000. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 210,000, which represents a 4.7-month supply at the current sales rate. The normal range is a supply of less than six months.

Monthly new home sales at the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) rate were at 44,000 in February, compared to last year when they were at 35,000. This is the highest level of NSA new home sales since 2008. The Census Bureau reported that new home sales through February 2015 were at 81,000 NSA, up 19 percent from 68,000 during the same period in 2014.

Existing-home sales

Total existing-home sales rose 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in February. Sales are up 4.7 percent from the previous year and are above year-over-year totals for the fifth consecutive month.

The median price for all types of existing homes in February was $202,600, 7.5 percent higher than February 2014. This marks the largest price gains since last February, which was 8.8 percent, and the 36th consecutive month of YOY price gains.

Total housing inventory increased 1.6 percent to 1.89 million existing homes available for sale but remains 0.5 percent below the previous year. Unsold inventory was at a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from the previous month.

The percent share of first-time buyers was 29 percent in February, up from 28 percent in January and the first increase since November 2014. In February 2014, first-time buyers represented 28 percent of all buyers.

Distressed sales were 11 percent of sales in February, unchanged for the third consecutive month and down from 16 percent in February 2014. Eight percent of February sales were foreclosures and 3 percent were short sales.

Existing home sales are counted when transactions are closed and new home sales are counted when contracts are signed.

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