New home sales unexpectedly fell 7.3% month-over-month (m/m) in December to an annual rate of 369,000, below the 385,000 rate expected, but the disappointing report was offset by an upward revision of November's figure to a 398,000 annual rate from the previously reported 377,000 rate. The median home price rose 1.3% m/m and 13.9% y/y to $248,900. The inventory of new homes of 151,000 was slightly up from the 149,000 recorded last month, representing 4.9 months of supply at the current sales rate. New home sales are considered a timely indicator of conditions in the housing market as they are based on signings instead of closings. The decline in sales was led by a 29% fall in sales in the northeast in December, coming on the heels of a 48% jump in November.
Despite the somewhat disappointing report, for all of 2012, new home
sales gained 19.9%, the biggest jump since 1983 according to Bloomberg,
and the first increase since 2005.
[But according to AP], For the year, sales rose nearly 20 percent to 367,000. That's the most
since 2009, although the increase is coming off the worst year for
new-home sales since the government began keeping records in 1963. Sales
are still below the 700,000 level that economists consider healthy.