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New home sales hit soft spot

March 27, 2003

Fall 8.1% in February after sharp decline in January

Inman News Features

Sales of new single-family homes fell again last month, after a 15.1 percent plunge in January, suggesting that a cool-off period in the hot housing market has set in.

New home sales were down 8.1 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 854,000 from January's revised rate of 929,000, according to estimates released today by the Commerce Department.

Last month's sales rates was also down 8.9 percent from the estimated rate of 937,000 recorded during the same month a year ago

National Association of Home Builders President Kent Conine said the decline in home sales came as no surprise. "With bad weather added to uncertainties about the economy and the war in Iraq, consumers were understandably more cautious about buying homes in February. But both of those factors are only temporary, and we expect to make up for the recent slippage in sales later this year," he said.

The Commerce Department reported the median sales price of new homes sold in February was $188,000, while the average sales price was $235,000.

At the end of the month, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale was 352,000, representing a five-month supply at the current sales rate.

The new-home sales report follows the National Association of Realtors data released Tuesday that showed a 4.3 percent drop in existing, single-family home sales to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.84 million units.

Copyright Inman News Service

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