U.S. New Home Sales Pull Back Off Nearly Thirteen-Year High In February

After reporting a jump in U.S. new home sales in the previous month, the Commerce Department released a report on Tuesday showing home sales pulled back sharply in the month of February.

The Commerce Department said new home sales tumbled by 4.4 percent to an annual rate of 765,000 in February after spiking by 10.5 percent to an upwardly revised rate of 800,000 in January.

With the upward revision, the annual rate of new home sales in January was the highest since reaching 842,000 in May of 2007.

Economists had expected new home sales to slump by 1.8 percent to a rate of 750,000 from the 764,000 originally reported for the previous month.

The bigger than expected decrease was partly due to a substantial pullback in new home sales in the West, which plunged by 17.2 percent in February after soaring by 28.8 percent in January.

New home sales in the Midwest also tumbled by 7.3 percent, while home sales rose by 1.0 percent in the South and skyrocketed by 38.9 percent in the Northeast.

The report also said the median sales price of new houses sold in February was $345,900, up 6.3 percent from a revised $325,300 in January and up 7.8 percent from $320,800 in the same month a year ago.

The estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 319,000, representing 5.0 months of supply at the current sales rate.

Last Friday, the National Association of Realtors released a separate showing existing home sales jumped to a thirteen-year high in the month of March.

NAR said existing home sales surged up by 6.5 percent to an annual rate of 5.77 million in February after slumping by 2 percent to a rate of 5.42 million in January. Economists had expected sales to climb by 0.7 percent.

With the much bigger than expected increase, existing home sales reached their highest level since February of 2007.

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