Figures released by the Commerce Department this morning show that sales of new single-family homes fell 7.1% in March, down to a 328,000 annual rate, the lowest sales pace in four months.
On a brighter note, February sales were revised upward to an annual rate of 353,000 units, compared to the previously announced 313,00. That revision means new home sales grew 7.3% in February, instead of the 1.6% decline reported earlier.
During last month, the median price of homes slipped 1% to $234,500, but that’s a jump of 6.3% over the same period in 2011.
Data released last week by the National Association of Realtors found sales of existing homes were also down in March, but it noted a continued drop in the existing-home inventory. Today’s report also showed a decline in the inventory of new homes, down to 144,000 units.
The Commerce Department new-home sales data came as the S&P/Case-Shiller Price Index (CSPI) revealed a decline in home prices in February from January.
Home prices in nine key markets — Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Charlotte, New York, Tampa, Portland and Seattle — fell to their lowest levels since the housing crisis began.
CSPI 10- and 20-city composites fell by 0.8% in February compared to January. The monthly figures also declined, by 3.6% and 3.5%, respectively, from the same periods in 2011.
Analysts cited by Forbes brushed off the CSPI numbers, saying the housing market had turned the corner, but it couldn’t be expected to quickly return to pre-crisis levels.