The sales of newly-built homes soared in March. Even more than what was expected. But the news may not be as glowing as what the media is telling us.
Take a look at the headlines from last Friday:
- Sales of new homes rocketed up 27 percent in March (WaPo)
- New-home sales rise fastest in 47 years (CNNMoney)
- Sales of New Homes Climb by Most Since 1963 (Business Week)
None of these statements is false, per se, but each is somewhat misleading. The biggest reason why March's New Home Sales was even able to rise 27 percent is because data from the month before it -- February -- was the worst in New Home Sales history.
In February, new homes sold posted its lowest level in recorded history.
A better comparison would be against March a year earlier; or October 2009, the month before the home buyer tax credit's initial expiration date.
Against both of those time periods, March 2010 fared well.
Home buyers - first-timers and repeats alike -- went under contract last month, taking advantage of the soon-to-expire federal home buyer tax credit program. The credit gives up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for repeat ones.
Buyers must be in mutual contract on or before April 30, 2010 to be eligible for the credit, and must closed on or before June 30, 2010.
The New Home Sales data included other strong housing data, too. The current supply of new homes nationwide is at a multi-year low. Along with stronger home demand, this should push home prices higher throughout the coming months.
It's no wonder builders are bullish on the economy.