Sales of US new homes fell in February for the second straight month, but prices jumped to their highest level in eight months, the government said Friday.
The Commerce Department said that new-home sales declined 1.6 percent last month to an annual rate of 313,000 homes. Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales at a 325,000-unit rate in February.The sales for new homes in January were revised down to 318,000 units from the previously reported 321,000 units. Sales have fallen roughly 7 percent since December.
The median price for a new home rose 8.3 percent to $233,700, which was the highest level since June. That price was up 6.2 percent from last February.
New-Home sales only represent less than 10 percent of the housing market, but they have an outsize impact on the economy. According to the National Association of Home Builders, each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue.
Sales of previously occupied homes have risen more than 13 percent since July, and January and February made up the best winter for re-sales in five years, when the housing crisis began.
The inventory of new homes on the market was unchanged at a record low 150,000 units last month. At that pace, it would take 5.8 months to clear the houses from the market, up from 5.7 months in January.