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January New Homes Sales Fall;
2011 Ends Stronger than Estimated

New home sales dropped slightly in January after four months of gains according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sales of new homes dipped in January but this news was offset by a revision of figures for the final quarter of 2011 that resulted in stronger sales than first estimated.

The U.S. Census Bureau said Feb. 24 that new-home sales fell 0.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 321,000 homes. This follows four straight months of gains in which home sales rose 10 percent.

The gains came after the government upwardly revised October, November and December's figures. December's annual sales pace of 324,000 was the highest in a year.

Even with more sales, just 304,000 new homes were sold in 2011 - the fewest on record dating back to 1963. And new homes are selling well below the 700,000-per-year rate that economists equate with healthy markets.

Sales prices for new homes are rising. The median sales price of a new home rose 0.3 percent in January to $217,100.

A second report released Feb. 24 showed that consumer confidence remained strong due to a record number of consumers that were aware of ongoing increases in jobs.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final index of consumer sentiment for February was 75.3, the highest level since February 2011 and .3 higher than January 2012.

February marked the sixth consecutive month of gains in the Sentiment Index as consumers became more positive about prospects for the economy.

"Consumers have shrugged off concerns about rising gas prices, the European crisis, and election year politics, preferring to focus on the favorable impact of job growth," said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.

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December 8, 2019, 7:59 am PDT

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