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New Home Sales Data Shows Housing on Strong Footing Prior to COVID-19 Concerns

Sales of newly built, single-family homes fell 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 765,000 units in February, coming off a sharp upward revision in January, according to data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. The February rate is 14.3 percent higher than the February 2019 pace, and January and February readings mark the highest monthly sales paces since July 2007.

"Sales were on solid footing as we entered 2020, but this could be the high water mark for the next few months as consumers contend with the coronavirus outbreak," says Dean Mon, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders

"The February numbers reflect the strong state of the market before coronavirus concerns set in," says Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist. "Given the momentum in the housing market at the start of the year, we do expect sales and construction activity to weaken during the third quarter; but housing's potential suggests it will be a sector that will help lead the economy during the eventual rebound once virus mitigation is complete."

Inventory fell to a 5 months' supply, with 319,000 new single-family homes for sale, 6.7 percent lower than February 2019. The median sales price was $345,900, up from $320,000 one year prior.