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UPDATE

New-home sales rise 1.7% in April

June 01, 2003|From Times wire reports

Low mortgage rates beckoned buyers in April and propelled sales of new homes to the highest level this year and sales of previously owned homes to the fifth best month on record.

The Commerce Department reported last week that national sales of new single-family homes rose by 1.7% from March to April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.03 million.

That marked the best showing since December.

In a second report, sales of previously owned homes rose by 5.6% in April to a rate of 5.84 million, the fifth highest level on record, the National Assn. of Realtors reported.

"Low mortgage rates are keeping the housing market red hot," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. The average rate on 30-year mortgages fell to a new low of 5.31% in the week ending Friday. The rate on 15-year loans was unchanged at 4.73%.

In March, new-home sales jumped 8.2%, while existing-home sales fell 5.6%.

Low mortgage rates propelled home sales to record levels last year. And this year is shaping up to be the second-best year for sales of existing homes and new ones, economists say.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in April was 5.81%, compared with 6.99% for the same month a year ago.

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