More evidence of winter weakness in the housing market came from the Commerce Department Wednesday: Sales of new single-family houses in February fell 2.2% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 308,000, 13% below the same month last year and the lowest annualized rate on record.
Prices, however, were on the upswing. The median price for February was $220,500, up 6% from $207,900 in January and 5.1% from February, 2009. The average price rose 5% from January to $282,600, 9.3% ahead of the same month last year.
Months supply rose to 9.2 from 8.9 in January but remained well below the 11.1-month inventory of a year ago. Median months for sale rose to 14.4 from14.1 in January. There were 233,000 new single-family homes for sale at the end of February, 96,000 completed, 102,000 under construction and 35,000 not started. That compared with 99,000 completed, for sale homes, 101,000 under construction and 32,000 not started in January.
The regional data indicated that winter weather was likely a factor in the decline. New-home sales were strong in the West, up 20.8% from January and 34.8% from February, 2009. The Northeast and the Midwest, on the other hand, were down sharply from January, by 20% and 18% respectively. Compared to February, 2009, the Northeast was flat and the Midwest down 18%. Sales in the South fell 4.6% from January, 29.5% behind the pace in February last year.