Huge Miss: New Home Sales Crash as Prices Hit Record High

Sales of new homes plummeted more than expected in April.

Sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 863,000 last month, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. That followed a revised sales pace of 917,000 in March, down from the initially reported 1.021 million sales.

April’s figure is 5.9 percent lower than the revised March figure and 15.5 percent lower than the preliminary number. Each of the previous three months was revised lower. Despite the disappointing data, this was the best sales number for April since 2005.

Economists had expected sales to come in at an annual rate of 955,000.

The median price of a new home sold last month rose to $372,400, up from $310,100 in April 2020, a nearly 20.1 percent year-over-year gain.

On a monthly basis, the median price of a new home rose an astonishing 12.6 percent, ending three consecutive months of declines.

This is the highest median new home price ever recorded. It is also the second-fastest ever monthly gain, following October 2014’s 13.6 percent gain, and the biggest year-over-year jump since November 1987.

Adjusted for inflation, the median price is 10 percent above the March 2007 housing bubble peak.

The miss on new home sales is even more notable because mortgage rates declined in April, which tends to make homes more affordable. But record-high prices in both new and existing homes are putting them out of reach for some would-be buyers and home builders appear to be holding off on projects while labor and materials shortages push up their costs.

John Carney