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New-home sales fell across most of U.S. in February

March 25, 2014|By Andrew Khouri
  • New-home sales fell in February across most of the U.S., after surging a month earlier.
New-home sales fell in February across most of the U.S., after surging a… (Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg )

Sales of recently built homes fell back in February, as harsh weather and high costs held back buyers.

New-home sales dropped 3.3% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000 last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Economists had expected sales to drop after an unexpected surge in January. 

Economists, though, anticipated a slightly better showing. The median forecast for those polled by Bloomberg News was for an annual rate of 445,000. January's rate was also revised downward from 468,000 to 455,000. 

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The report comes as builders have expressed pessimism over the new-home market. Developers have said a shortage of ready-to-build lots, few skilled workers and rising building costs have held them back.

New-home buyers have also struggled recently with cold weather and higher prices and mortgage rates.

Sales fell in all regions except the Midwest, where they surged 36.7%. Sales dropped 15.9% from January in the West, a major homebuilding region spared February’s extreme weather.

The national median price for a new home was $261,800 last month, up from $260,800 in January. Compared with February 2013, the median price fell 1.2%.

If homes sold at their current pace, the existing supply for sale would run out in 5.2 months. Economists consider a supply of about six months to be healthy.


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