New home sales bounced back solidly in April, up 6.8 percent to a 517,000 annual rate that is on the high side of expectations. This is 26.1% higher than 1 year ago. Strength is centered in the South which is the largest and important housing region and where sales rose 5.8 percent, this however fails to reverse the region’s 11.8 percent drop in the prior month.

Supply rose slightly in the month, to 205,000 new homes on the market, but supply relative to sales fell to 4.8 months from 5.1 month. Low supply should encourage builders to bring more homes on the market but at the same time low supply hurts current sales. Price readings are mostly favorable led by a 4.1 percent rise in the median price to $297,300 for a strong 8.3 percent year-on-year gain.

Readings in this report are always volatile month-to-month but the gains for April underscore the recent surge in housing starts & permits and help offset last week’s disappointing weakness in existing home sales. The housing sector is still trying to get off the ground but indications, taken together, are improving.