Sales of new homes in U.S. rise nearly 27% in March


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New home sales took off with a bang last month, soaring 26.9% over the prior month, the government said Friday.

The gains follow four months of falling sales including a record low hit in February. The news comes one day after a national group reported a 6.8% jump in sales of previously owned homes.


“The March sales figures were an absolute blowout,” said Michael D. Larson, a housing and interest rate analyst with Weiss Research.

It remains to be seen whether the momentum can be sustained after a federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for some current homeowners expires next week.

The March sales pace stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000 homes, according to the Commerce Department. That compares with February’s estimate of 324,000 and is 23.8% above the 332,000 estimate for March 2009.

The median sales price of new houses sold in March was $214,000. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 228,000, representing a supply of 6.7 months at the current sales rate.

-- Alejandro Lazo