New-home sales decline by most since July 2013

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Sales of new homes slid in March by the most since 2013 as the coronavirus started to wreak havoc on the country’s economy.

Single-family home transactions declined 15.4% to an annualized 627,000 pace, the lowest in almost a year, government data showed Thursday. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 644,000 rate. The median sales price rose from the prior year to $321,400.

March was the first month when U.S. state closures of restaurants, retailers and other non-essential business became more widespread. The data underscore how the pandemic and broader uncertainty about the economy is thwarting potential homebuyers.

Other recent housing figures have shown a market in decline. Building sentiment in April declined to the lowest level since mid-2012, mortgage applications plunged at the start of March and existing home sales dropped by the most since 2015.

March new-home sales in the West slumped 38.5%, the biggest monthly decrease in nearly a decade. Purchases also dropped 41.5% in the Northeast, 8.1% in the Midwest and 0.8% in the South.

Inventory rose as demand declined. The inventory-to-sales ratio climbed to 6.4 months, the highest in nearly a year.

Bloomberg News