Sales of new homes rebounded in November to the strongest pace in eight months as lower prices helped to attract more buyers.
Single-family home sales increased 16.9% from the prior month to a 657,000 annualized pace, according to government data Thursday that had been delayed by the shutdown. That exceeded economist estimates and compared with October’s upwardly revised 562,000 rate. The median sales price fell 11.9% from a year earlier, the most in almost a decade, to a nearly two-year low of $302,400.
The figures contrast with other data showing the housing market is cooling amid gradually rising borrowing costs and a scarcity of available properties. However, steady job gains and elevated consumer confidence, along with the continued boost from fiscal stimulus such as tax cuts, are helping underpin some demand. The number of properties sold for which construction hadn’t yet started rose to a one-year high of 238,000.
Sales from the prior month doubled in the Northeast, rose 31% in the Midwest and jumped 21% in the South. Transactions in the West declined 5.9%.
New-home purchases are seen as a timelier indicator of the market as they’re tabulated when contracts are signed. They account for about 10% of the market, with the rest comprising previously owned homes, calculated when contracts close.
The data, released jointly by the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development, tend to be volatile. The report was originally scheduled to be released Dec. 27, and was postponed due to the partial government shutdown.