Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New home sales flat in US West region during December

New single-family home sales in the U.S. West were flat from December 2011 to December 2012, coming in at 5,000 new homes for December 2012, which was a change of zero percent from December 2011. According to a new report, released last week by the census bureau, 2012 showed growth in new home sales over 2011 overall, but December new home sales have moved little since 2008, and are generally hovering around 5,000. 

The report, which monitors sales activity for newly constructed houses, reported that in the West, new home sales were back to the lowest total recorded since January 2012, and this reflects seasonal patterns. We will have to wait until Spring 2013 to get a sense of how 2013 will shape up for new home sales. 

The first graph shows monthly new home sales totals for each month since 2003. 2012 was clearly the most active year since 2009, but remains below 2008 levels. 

For the West region: 

Comparing monthly totals, December stats show that little has happened in December over the past five years or so. December 2012's total was flat again near five-year lows.

The number of new homes for sale rose a bit, rising 6.25 percent from December 2011 to December 2012. There were 34,000 new homes for sale in the West region during December, compared to 32,000 for sale during December of 2011. Nationally, new homes for sale were flat. 

As a final note, we can also look to the new home inventory. In this case, we calculate inventory by subtracting the number of new home sales in a given month from the number of new homes for sale at the end of the previous month. We see in the graph that the inventory bottomed out in 2012.  During the past two months, however, the inventory has inched up as builders have been responding to very low inventories in existing homes for sale. The rise in inventory suggests that builders are less fearful of being left with inventory they can't sell, although inventory remains at very low levels. 

For a longer historical perspective, see here