Sales of new single-family homes were down 7.1% in March 2012, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000 units, from February's upwardly revised pace of 353,000, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Especially strong sales in February were likely the result of very mild weather across much of the United States, and that set the stage for a decrease in March - but still leaves the first quarter of 2012 up form the previous quarter.
"Some new-home sales that would have happened this March were likely pulled forward as a result of exceedingly good weather conditions across much of the country in February, when we recorded the quickest sales pace since the end of the home buyer tax credit," noted Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, FL. "The bottom line is that builders in many markets are reporting more interest among prospective buyers, with the main sticking points for sales right now being access to credit for builders and buyers, and problems with obtaining accurate appraisals."
"The March decline is from a stronger-than-expected sales pace in February, and looking at the first quarter as a whole, sales are up 3.7% from the fourth quarter of 2011," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "This is exactly the kind of modest, but substantive, growth that we are expecting to see in the year ahead along with gradual firming of the economy and job market."
The inventory of new homes for sale continued to shrink in March to a new record low of just 144,000 units, which is a 5.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
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