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The pace of new-home sales accelerated in April on a month-over-month and year-over-year basis as three in five builders reported demand is either on track or stronger than they expected, according to the latest Zonda New Home Market Update.

Despite the new-home market benefiting from competitive advantages over the resale market, such as financing incentives and lower maintenance needs, 39% of builders surveyed by Zonda reported demand was slower than expected. Zonda attributed the disparity in demand to the struggles some consumers face with affordability in the housing market. Many consumers are facing hurdles qualifying for a mortgage or managing monthly payments, negatively impacting the demand for housing.

However, for consumers active in the housing market, new homes are becoming more attractive.

“Many house hunters have found the builder advantage undeniable,” says Ali Wolf, chief economist for Zonda. “Buyers get the benefit of a brand-new home with lower maintenance needs, improved energy efficiency, and in many cases, either financial or design incentives. The incentives, in particular, can make new homes even more attractive to budget-conscious buyers trying to purchase today.”

Zonda’s new-home sales metric, which accounts for both cancellations and seasonality, indicates there were 753,258 new homes sold in April on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, 3.1% higher than March and 4.8% higher than in April 2023. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, 67,621 homes were sold, 6.7% higher than last year and 38.8% above the same month in 2019.

The Zonda New Home Pending Sales Index (PSI)—created to account for fluctuations in supply by combining total sales volume with the average sales rate per month per community—increased 5.7% year-over-year to a reading of 147.8. The index level was 0.5% above the March 2024 reading and is 15.1% below cycle highs, according to Zonda.

Philadelphia (+33.1%), Denver (+22.8%), and Atlanta (+19.1%) posted the strongest year-over-year increases in PSI. Sales were down compared to 2023 in eight markets surveyed by Zonda, with the largest declines in Orlando, Jacksonville, and Dallas. On a monthly basis, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Seattle were the best performing markets; conversely twelve markets posted month-over-month declines, led by New York, Raleigh, and San Francisco.

The Zonda Market Ranking (ZMR) accounts for both sales pace and volume, is seasonally adjusted, and is taken as a percentage relative to a baseline market average. The metric was created in order to add further context to sales; however, the ZMR does not account for what it takes to sell a home.

The national ZMR index came in at 118.1 in April, indicating a slightly overperforming market nationally. Among Zonda’s top 50 major markets, 76% were overperforming, 14% were average, and 10% were underperforming relative to historical averages.

According to Zonda, the pricing picture for the new-home market was mixed in April. Prices fell 2.2% to an average of $331,278 for entry-level homes and 1.2% to an average of $520,793 for move-up homes. Prices increased 0.2% to an average of $911,491 for high-end homes in April. The declines for entry-level and move-up homes reflect smaller home sizes, differing locations, and select price drops, according to Zonda.

Of builders surveyed by Zonda, 54% reported raising prices in April, up from 51% the month prior. Approximately 39% reported holding prices flat, down from 44% in March. Incentives remain common the new-home market, with 58% of new-home communities offering incentives in April, flat on a month-over-month basis.

Zonda reports there are 14,544 actively-selling communities, up 2.7% from April 2023 but 3.1% lower than March 2024 levels. Total community count is 24.8% below the same month in 2019. According to Zonda, the lack of competition from other new-home communities has allowed for some upward pressure on the average sales rate per month per community. Zonda defines a community as anywhere with five or more units for sale.

Dallas (+13.9%), Austin (+12.9%), and Salt Lake City (+9.4%) grew community count the most on a year-over-year basis, while San Francisco (-21.3%), Philadelphia (-17.1%), and Seattle (-14.5%) posted the biggest year-over-year declines.

National quick move-ins (QMIs) totaled 27,952 in April, up 1.5% compared to last year but 2.8% lower than March levels. Total QMIs—homes that can be occupied within 90 days—are 46.3% above 2019 levels. QMIs represent an attractive option for some prospective buyers given the lack of resale supply and many builders have pivoted to a more spec-heavy strategy in the past 18 months to help capture today’s buyers.

On a metro basis, 56% of markets analyzed by Zonda increased QMI count year-over-year. The markets with the strongest annual growth in QMI were Riverside/San Bernardino (+67.5%), Cincinnati (+34.4%), and Salt Lake City (+30.9%). Relative to 2019 levels, Jacksonville, Sacramento, and Las Vegas have seen the most growth in QMIs, while San Francisco, New York, and Seattle have seen the biggest declines in QMIs.

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