May 23, 2012 – Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 3.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000 units, according to newly released data from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.
“The increase in April sales activity is in line with other important housing measures that have shown continued, gradual improvement from the first quarter as more consumers look to take advantage of today’s low interest rates and affordable home prices,” noted National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “In markets where demand is rising, we could be seeing a faster pace of recovery if not for persistently tight lending conditions that are slowing both the building and buying of new homes.”
“Today’s report is representative of the kind of modest but consistent gains that we expect to see in new-home sales through the remainder of 2012,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “As indicated by our most recent builder surveys, more consumers are taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates amidst firming economic and job market conditions in certain areas.”
On a regional basis, new-home sales rose 7.7 percent in the Northeast, 28.2 percent in the Midwest and 27.5 percent in the West in April. The South was the only region to post a decline for the month, of 10.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale held virtually unchanged at just 146,000 units in April, which is a historically slim 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace.
It’s been a rough five and a half years for the American homeowner. Since the housing bubble reached its peak in early 2007, Americans have watched helplessly as $7 trillion in housing wealth evaporated. At many points during this ugly plunge, pundits have erroneously called the “bottom” of the housing market – saying things could finally get no worse. And then they got worse.
The American public can therefore be forgiven for eyeing the latest round of predictions that the market has turned a corner with skepticism. Of course, the housing market will heal at some point, so perhaps the boy is crying about an actual wolf this time.
The best reason to shed your hard-won dubiousness is a report issued today by the The Demand Institute, a think tank jointly operated by the well-respected and non-partisan research organizations The Conference Board and Nielsen. The fifty-page study is definitively labeling 2012 the year of the housing bottom.