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After abysmal April, new home sales rise in May

The sales pace of new homes picked up in May after three months of declines

After three months of steady declines, the annual rate of new home sales increased in May, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sales of new single-family homes in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 696,000, up 10.7% from April, but 5.9% lower than a year ago. The incremental increase comes after new home sales hit their lowest annualized rate since April 2020 in April 2022.

“In the face of rising interest rates, affordability is the worst it’s been in at least 15 years, but buyers are resilient, finding any way they can to make a home purchase and increasing inventory of new homes provides more opportunities for buyers to jump in while they still can,” said Zillow economist Nicole Bachaud, according to a statement.

Despite the increase in sales pace, the inventory of new homes held steady in May from April. At the end of the month, 444,000 new homes still were for sale, representing a 7.7 month supply, at the current sales pace.

After reaching a median sales price of more than $450,000 in April, the median sales price for a new home dropped slightly in May, to $449,000.

New home sales were down month over month in two of the four major U.S. regions — the Northeast (-51.1%) and the Midwest (-18.3%) — while the pace of new home sales rose in the South (12.8%) and the West (39.3%). Year over year, the Northeast (42.5%) and the Midwest (37.0%) recorded declines, but the South (1.5%) and the West (0.5%) recorded modest increases.

The rebound in new home sales is positive news for homebuilders, whose confidence in the market has been slipping, as mortgage rates have surged and home prices have continued to rise.

“While there’s still a large number of housing projects in the pipeline, any further slowing of new sales will likely further depress builders’ confidence as they plan future output,” Bachaud said. “If builders pull back, the market could miss out on inventory that would aid in a much-needed rebalancing, continuing the inventory shortage that has played a big role in the run-up in prices during the pandemic.”

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