Prices continue to rise while sales drop from February
Housing data released for the month of March showed a slowdown in the housing recovery as home sales dropped and prices continued to rise.
Single-family new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000 in March, a 14.5 percent drop from February and the lowest annual pace since last July. The year-over-year picture was only slightly better, with sales down 13.3 percent from March 2013.
Despite the poor showing in March, however, new-home sales for the first quarter of 2014 were down just 1.8 percent from last year.
Existing home sales fared slightly better: Sales were down just 0.2 percent from February to March, and 7.5 percent year-over-year. According to the National Association of Realtors, the Northeast and Midwest saw some gains, but it wasn’t enough to offset losses in the South and West.
The best news of the month came from the latest Housing Price Index and housing starts data, both of which showed gains. Housing starts were up 2.8 percent overall in March, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD; single-family starts alone rose 6 percent. The number of building permits issued was down 2.4 percent below February rates but 11.2 percent higher than a year earlier.
The HPI, issued by the Federal Home Finance Agency (FHFA), displayed the latest data for February, which showed home prices 0.6 percent higher month-over-month. The median price for a home sits at $290,000, the highest level ever (the previous record was $262,600, set in March 2007) and an 11.2 percent positive jump from February.