New-Home Sales Decline by Most since July 2013

Sales of new homes slid in March by the most since 2013 as the coronavirus started to wreak havoc on the country’s economy.

Single-family home transactions declined 15.4% to an annualized 627,000 pace, the lowest in almost a year, government data showed Thursday. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 644,000 rate. The median sales price rose from the prior year to $321,400.

March was the first month when U.S. state closures of restaurants, retailers and other non-essential business became more widespread. The data underscore how the pandemic and broader uncertainty about the economy is thwarting potential homebuyers.

Other recent housing figures have shown a market in decline. Building sentiment in April declined to the lowest level since mid-2012, mortgage applications plunged at the start of March and existing home sales dropped by the most since 2015.

March new-home sales in the West slumped 38.5%, the biggest monthly decrease in nearly a decade. Purchases also dropped 41.5% in the Northeast, 8.1% in the Midwest and 0.8% in the South.

Inventory rose as demand declined. The inventory-to-sales ratio climbed to 6.4 months, the highest in nearly a year.

Posted on on 4/23/2020.