Single-Family Home Sales Drop
The housing market continues to have its ups and downs. While the industry celebrates positive numbers, the negative sales figures often bring about disappointment.
Last month, sales of U.S. family homes dropped to the lowest in eight months. According to the Commerce Department, new home sales tumbled 14.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000 units. That’s the second straight month of decline, and the biggest drop yet since July last year. On a year-over-year basis, sales dropped 13.3 percent, the largest year-on-year decline since April 2011.
The report comes in the wake of an unusually cold winter that battered most regions of the country. Tighter inventory and a spike in mortgage rates also cut down activity in the market. Because of stricter lending rules, many new buyers can’t qualify for loans and are increasingly getting left out of the market. The sluggish economy is also keeping a lot of buyers at bay.
All these factors have hurt home sales. In turn, they have also hurt the economy.
“The rise in interest rates and prices of new homes is leaving some potential buyers with sticker shock,” Bill Banfield, vice president at Quicken Loans in Detroit, told Reuters.
“The weak tone of this report is a bitter pill for those, including ourselves, who have been looking for signs of a spring thaw in the housing recovery,” Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York, told Reuters.
The ripple effects of the blow to sales have been felt elsewhere. Housing stocks fell on the dour report, with the S&P 500 Homebuilding Index ending down about 1.1 percent, according to Reuters. Even an index for the smaller builders registered a loss at closing.
New home sales primarily dropped in the South and Midwestern regions, where an extended winter had a big impact. Sales also dipped in the West. In the Northeast, positive gains were made, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the loss in other areas.
Will Warm Weather Bring Better News?
Global financial services company UBS believes that with spring here, we will have better numbers from the housing market.
“Looking ahead, we expect a sharp spring rebound in quarterly average U.S. housing starts following the exceptionally frigid winter,” Maury Harris, UBS chief U.S. economist, wrote in a recent note, according to Yahoo Finance.
The company is optimistic about a good showing in the upcoming months and is raising its expectations.
“U.S. housing starts in Q1 were restrained by especially inclement weather … We are raising our Q2 annualized housing starts forecast to a 1.15 million annualized pace versus our earlier 1.10 million forecast. Also, we are boosting our Q3 projection from 1.15 million to 1.22 million,” Harris wrote.
Others agree that better times are ahead for the market.
“We went through this soft patch over the winter, largely due to the weather. We’ve seen autos largely rebound already, with good numbers in March, but most of the housing statistics continue to be pretty lackluster. So we do think things will start to snap back,”Andrew Burkly, head of institutional portfolio strategy at Oppenheimer Asset Management, told Yahoo.