New Home Sales decline in December to 307,000 Annual Rate

New Home Sales decline in December to 307,000 Annual Rate

by CalculatedRisk on 1/26/2012  

The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 307 thousand. This was down from a revised 314 thousand in November (revised down from 315 thousand).

The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate.

Sales of new single-family houses in December 2011 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000 … This is 2.2 percent (±13.2%) below the revised November rate of 314,000 and is 7.3 percent (±16.6%) below the December 2010 estimate of 331,000.

New Home SalesClick on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply.

Months of supply increased to 6.1 in December.

The all time record was 12.1 months of supply in January 2009.

New Home Sales, Months of SupplyThis is now close to normal (less than 6 months supply is normal).

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 157,000. This represents a supply of 6.1 months at the current sales rate.

On inventory, according to the Census Bureau:

“A house is considered for sale when a permit to build has been issued in permit-issuing places or work has begun on the footings or foundation in nonpermit areas and a sales contract has not been signed nor a deposit accepted.”

Starting in 1973 the Census Bureau broke this down into three categories: Not Started, Under Construction, and Completed.

New Home Sales, InventoryThis graph shows the three categories of inventory starting in 1973.

The inventory of completed homes for sale was at 61,000 units in December. The combined total of completed and under construction is at the lowest level since this series started.

The last graph shows sales NSA (monthly sales, not seasonally adjusted annual rate).

In December 2011 (red column), 21 thousand new homes were sold (NSA). This was the weakest December since this data has been tracked, and was below the previous record low for December of 23 thousand set in 1966 and tied in 2010. The high for December was 87 thousand in 2005.

New Home Sales, NSAThis was below the consensus forecast of 320 thousand, and was a new record low for the month of December (NSA).

New home sales have averaged only 300 thousand SAAR over the 20 months since the expiration of the tax credit … mostly moving sideways at a very low level.

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