January New Home Sales Post Strong Gains

February 26, 2013 10:28 AM EST
The argument in favor of a sustained housing recovery was made stronger Tuesday after data from the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that the sales of new single-family houses in January 2013 rose 15.6 percent from December to 437,000. Sales were up 28.9 percent from last year and were well ahead of the 380,000 economists expected.

The median sales price of new houses sold in January was $226,400 and the average sales price was $286,300. This is down from a median sales price of new houses sold in December 2012 of $248,900 and an average sales price of $304,000, but up from January 2012 of $217,000 and $261,600, respectively.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 150,000. This is down from 151,000 in December. This represents a supply of 4.1 months at the current sales rate, versus supply of 4.9 months in December. In January 2012, supply stood at 5.6 months.

Housebuilding stocks are rallying on today's news. Large homebuilders Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL), DR Horton (NYSE: DHI) and PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE: PHM), are up 2, 3 and 4 percent, respectively. The ETF that tracks the sector, SPDR S&P Homebuilders (NYSE: XHB), is up 2 percent.

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