WASHINGTON: New home sales in the United States surged in November to an eight-month high, smashing economists' expectations as the normally slower colder months arrived, the government reported on Thursday (Jan 31).
The Commerce Department report, that was delayed by more than a month due to the US government shutdown, showed long-suffering sales of new single-family homes doubled in the Northeast, spiked in the Midwest after months of declines, and also rose sharply in the South but stagnated in the fire-stricken West.
Average and median prices also fell, suggesting efforts to increase supply may have helped loosen what the tight market.
However, because the figures were delayed they gave an outdated picture of the market. December data was due for release Jan 25 and has not been rescheduled yet, and January data was set for Feb 26, but could be rescheduled as well.
Analysts have predicted some recovery in the housing market as mortgage rates cool.
New home sales jumped 16.9 per cent over October's level to an annual rate of 657,000 units, well above the 555,000 called for in a consensus forecast by private economists.
Figures for October also saw a healthy bump upwards, pointing to some recovery in the market.
Median sales prices in November fell seven per cent to US$302,400, the lowest since February 2017. Average prices also fell 8.4 per cent to US$362,400.
The weakness in the housing market in 2018 fed worries about the direction of the US economy as the sector is often the first to peak in an economic expansion and provides an early warning to a potential slowdown.