The new home sales report has sealed its reputation as the wildest set of data around. April’s annualized rate came in at 619,000 which is not a misprint. This is the highest rate since January 2008 and dwarfs all readings of the recovery. February 2015’s rate, way behind at 545,000, is the next highest rate this cycle. The data even include a very large 39,000 net upward revision to the two prior months, a gain that reflects annual revisions which are included in the data. The monthly 16.6 percent surge is not only far beyond expectations but is the biggest monthly gain since way back in January 1992.
The data also include a big jump in prices, up 7.8 percent in the month to a record median $321,100 while the year-on-year rate, which was negative in the March report, is at plus 9.7 percent year-on-year.
But the surge in sales is a negative for supply as supply relative to sales fell very sharply to 4.7 months from 5.5 months. The total number of new homes for sale was little changed, down 1,000 at 243,000.
Regional data show a more than 50 percent jump in the Northeast where however the number of sales relative to other regions is very low. The same is true of the Midwest where sales fell 4.8 percent in the month. The two main regions for new home sales both show outsized gains with the South up 15.8 percent and the West up 23.6 percent.
Year-on-year, total sales are suddenly up 23.8 percent, this at the same time that the median price is now well past the 6 percent rate where housing appreciation had been trending. Even though new home sales are volatile, which reflects the report’s small sample sizes, and even though low supply will limit future gains, the outlook for housing just got a big boost. Talk will build for a greater contribution from housing to overall growth.