U.S. New Home Sales Decline in April
May 27, 2004
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U.s. new-home sales dropped in April but remained well above the sales pace of this time last year, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. The pace of new single-family home sales in the U.S. decreased 11.8 percent from the upwardly revised March rate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.093 million.

The year-to-date pace was 18.0 percent above the first 4 months of 2003, and the April sales pace exceeded the pace of all of 2003, a record year for single-family home sales.

"Home sales remain strong following an extraordinary March," said Bobby Rayburn, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home and apartment builder from Jackson, MS, U.S. "NAHB's Housing Market Index, based on our monthly surveys of single-family builders, showed strong readings in both April and May."

NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders added that the March bulge in home sales was related to an unusual swing in weather conditions. However, "market fundamentals remain sound despite an increase in mortgage interest rates from their March lows," he said. "We've been expecting sales to recede from the early-year pace, but we're forecasting an annual total of 1.113 million units, up about 2 percent from the record pace in 2003."

The inventory of new homes for sale in April was 387,000 units, representing a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace. "The inventory situation still is fundamentally healthy, and the number of completed units in inventory still is historically low," Mr. Seiders said.

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