New Home Sales Slightly Better Than Expected

Aug 23, 2012 1:04pm

Today’s new home sales showed some signs of life.  Combined with yesterday’s existing home sales report it seems that the housing market has left a bottom behind and is on a bumpy road to recovery.

New homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 372,000 in July, according to the Commerce Department.

This is 3.6 percent above the rate a month ago and 25.3 percent more than a year ago, just a bit higher than economist expectations.

New home sales are still well below levels seen in a healthy economy but now match a two-year high.

Last time the housing market was showing signs of life was thanks to a government program offering tax benefits to new home buyers.  Not so this time.

New home sales are a small chunk of the housing market but they have an important ripple effect in the economy.

One more nugget out today on housing.

Home prices rose 1.8 percent in the April-June compared with the first quarter of the year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Thursday.

It was the biggest quarterly jump since the fourth quarter of 2005, when prices rose by 2.2 percent. Prices were up 3 percent from the same quarter a year earlier.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates, which reached historic lows earlier this summer, moved higher for the fourth consecutive week.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66 percent for the week ending Aug. 23, up from last week when it averaged 3.62 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year rate averaged 4.22 percent, Freddie Mac reported.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.89 percent, up from last week when it averaged 2.88 percent. Last year in the same period, the 15-year rate averaged 3.44 percent.

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