US new home sales see fastest pace in 8 months
Washington (AFP) – Sales of new homes in the United States forged higher for the third straight month in March, hitting the fastest pace since July, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.
The acceleration came as the volume of new houses for sale reached its highest level in nearly eight years, pointing to homebuilders’ efforts to meet consistently strong demand in a tight market.
Housing analysts say the recovery has produced an exceptionally tight market, with supply failing to keep pace with a rebound in demand driven by steady job creation and rising wages.
American homebuyers snatched up newly built single-family homes in March at an annual rate of 621,000, seasonally adjusted, the highest in eight months and a sharp 5.8 percent above February’s already-strong result, according to the report.
The unusually warm weather in January and February unpinned sales over the winter, so analysts only expected a very modest increase last month.
Sales for March were a stunning 15.6 percent higher than the same month of 2016.
The Commerce Department estimated the stock of homes for sale at 268,000, the highest since July 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession.
However, the brisk sales pace meant supply was actually falling and was estimated at only 5.2 months, down 3.7 percent over February.
In a further sign the tight market, the average home price rose 7.5 percent for the month to $315,100, which was up only 1.2 percent from March 2016.