New homes stand at the Lexington Country development in Frisco, Texas, U.S. (Photographer: Laura Buckman/Bloomberg)  

U.S. New-Home Sales Fall in October, Missing Projections

(Bloomberg) -- Sales of new U.S. homes fell in October to the weakest pace since March 2016 as rising borrowing costs and elevated prices keep buyers out of the market.

Single-family home sales fell 8.9 percent from the prior month to a 544,000 annualized pace, according to government data Wednesday. That was below all estimates in Bloomberg’s survey of economists, which had called for 575,000, and compares with September’s upwardly revised pace of 597,000.

U.S. New-Home Sales Fall in October, Missing Projections

The median sales price dropped 3.1 percent from a year earlier to $309,700, the lowest since February 2017, though still out of reach for many potential buyers.

Key Takeaways

  • All four regions showed declines, adding to signs the housing market is cooling amid rising costs of homeownership such as higher borrowing costs, and a scarcity of supply. At the same time, steady job gains and elevated consumer confidence should help underpin demand.
  • The supply of homes at the current sales rate rose to 7.4 months from 6.5 months in September. The number of new homes for sale at the end of the month increased 4.3 percent to 336,000, indicating improving supply.
  • The results follow data released earlier Wednesday that showed third-quarter residential investment contracted and was a drag on the expansion.
  • A gauge of U.S. homebuilder shares slumped 2.2 percent as of 11:15 a.m. in New York as all 15 members declined.

What Our Economists Say...

New home sales were surprisingly weak in October, coming in lower than even the most pessimistic forecasts. Upward revisions to prior months take out some of the bite, but the broad decline supports the view that housing demand should cool further as rate hikes continue.

-- Tim Mahedy, Yelena Shulyatyeva and Carl Riccadonna, Bloomberg Economics (Read the full note here)

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  • The drop in purchases was led by a 22.1 percent slump in the Midwest, and an 18.5 percent decrease in the Northeast. The South had a 7.7 percent decline while the West fell 3.2 percent.
  • New-home purchases are tabulated when contracts are signed, and account for about 10 percent of the market. They’re considered a timelier barometer than purchases of previously owned homes, which are calculated when contracts close.
  • The report, released jointly by the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development, tends to be volatile.

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