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New Home Sales Drop 8.9% in October

New home sales in the US plummeted almost 9% last month according to today’s report released jointly by the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development, with rising costs of borrowing seeing sales drop to the lowest rate since March 2016.

The rate of home sales was below the figure projected by most economists, including all economists previously surveyed by Bloomberg and Reuters.

Key Takeaways

  • Single-family home sales dropped 8.9% to an annualized pace of 544,000 compared to September’s revised pace of 597,000 and projections of 575,000.
  • The average sales price, $309,700, shows a 3.1% drop from this time last year.
  • All four US regions underwent decline.
  • A gauge of US home builders dropped 2.2% in New York following the data.

In the South which represents the bulk of transactions, new home sales declined 7.7% to the lowest level since July 2017. Sales in the West dropped 3.2% and in the Northeast, sales dropped 18.5%, the lowest since September 2015. The Midwest was the most affected region, with a 22.1% representing a 2.5-year low.

The data for new home sales, which represents 10% of the housing market, is worse than even the more pessimistic forecasts for October. At the current pace, it would take 7.4 months to sell all the houses currently on the market, which is the slowest pace since February 2011.

Rising interest rates are, of course, impacting the housing market with another rate hike on the horizon before the end of the year. New home sales have now dropped in four of the last six months.

The shortage of houses for sale has in been driving prices up, although the average price is still down annually.

Expert Outlook

TIAA Bank’s John Pataky said:

“It’s clear we are well into a correction period for the new home market,” said TIAA Bank’s John Pataky. “High prices and rising rates are continuing to take their toll on this segment, which is particularly sensitive to changes in these metrics. Additionally, declining home builder confidence is only exacerbating the troubles for the new home market on the supply side. Next year, we will likely see a tussle between price moderation creating additional demand and rising rates having the opposite effect.”

Steve Blitz, the chief US economist for TS Lombard, said:

“If the economy manages to right itself with real wage growth expanding and housing affordability holding relatively steady (prices and mortgage rates), there is a sufficient backlog of demand to reboot housing for this cycle.

Market Response

Homebuilder’s stock has dropped while spot gold is up 0.68% following the report and currently trading at $1,219.54/oz with December Comex Futures trading at $1,220.60/oz and up 0.59%.

Volatile housing market data often creates a knee-jerk response in the value of gold and the USD and the rather dramatic home sales data is likely to have directly impacted the market in this case as well.