The Census Bureau reports that delayed January New Home sales fell nearly 7% from December to an annualized rate of 607,000 units versus the 623,000 expected. However, December was revised higher to 652,000 from 621,000. Sales also declined year-over-year by 4.1%. Sales fell in the Northeast, Midwest and in the South but rose in the West. The average sales price was $373,100 from last year's $377,800. Inventories were 6.6 months, just above the 6% average.
Mortgage rates continued to decline in the latest survey due in part to low inflation coupled with slowing global growth. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell ten basis points to 4.31% with an average 0.40 in points and fees. Rates are now at 13-month lows and sets up for a solid spring buying season given home prices are also lower this season compared to last year.
As the spring buying season kicks off the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that mortgage applications for new home purchases rose 3% from February 2018 to February 2019, up month-over-month by 6% from January in its Builder Application Survey. The survey tracks application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of home builders across the nation. Joel Kan the MBA's Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting said, "Slowing home-price growth, combined with stronger wage gains and lower mortgage rates, is translating to improving affordability conditions for spring buyers."