Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Commerce Department reported that new home sales in the U.S. fell 10.2 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of just 309,000, a new all-time low going back 46 years in a data series that is not adjusted for population growth.
To put this sales rate in its proper historical context, consider that the previous low of 338,000 in September of 1981 works out to a population adjusted rate of about 460,000.
The January total is a full 34 percent below this pace!
Not surprisingly, inventory continues to rise, and the "months of supply" metric rose from 12.2 months in December to 13.3 months in the latest report.
The median sales price plunged a record 9.9 percent to $201,100 from $223,200 the month before. The median price for a new home is now down 13.4 percent from a year ago though the magnitude of the decline continues to be masked by builder incentives for homes that do sell.
For anyone wondering whether the nation's housing market was still getting worse or, possibly, about to finally turn the corner, a definitive answer has come in this week's three major housing reports - the record declines in the Case Shiller Home Price Index on Tuesday, yesterday's report on existing home sales, and today's abysmal tally of new home sales.