Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 7.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units in January, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This improvement follows an upward revision in December. The monthly number is 18.6% higher than the January 2019 rate and the highest monthly sales pace since July 2007.

“The January sales pace matches what builders are saying in NAHB surveys – builder confidence is strong and low interest rates have fueled single-family housing demand at the start of 2020,” said Dean Mon, chairperson of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Shrewsbury, N.J.

A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the January reading of 764,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

“Warm weather in many parts of the U.S. meant an early start to the home buying season,” said Jing Fu, NAHB director of forecasting and analysis. “Meanwhile, the months’ supply has fallen to 5.1, indicating additional housing inventory is needed.”

Inventory fell to a five-month supply, with 324,000 new single-family homes for sale, 6.6% lower than January 2019. Of that total, just 76,000 are completed and ready to occupy. The median sales price was $348,200. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $305,400.

Regionally, new home sales are 30.3% higher in the Midwest, 23.5% higher in the West and 4.8% higher in the Northeast. Sales are down 4.4% in the South.

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