According to the Census Bureau, the number of new homes sold slid for the fourth straight month in August, easing 2 percent from July. On a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, home buyers bought 295,000 newly-built homes last month.
August marked the lowest new home sales tally since February. News outlets are jumping on the story, with at least one calling it a “blow” to the housing market.
That’s an unfair assessment.
It’s tough for the new home market to tally big sales numbers when the number of homes for sale is dwindling and, in August, that’s exactly what we saw. The number of new homes for sale nationwide fell to 162,000 last month. This is the fewest number of new homes for sale since at least 1993, the first year the Census Bureau tracked such data.
In other words, using New Home Sales as a housing market gauge may be misleading. A better metric may be new home supply.
In August, new home supply edged 0.1 months higher to 6.6 months. This means that, at today’s sales pace, the complete new home inventory would be sold out in 6.6 months.
It’s the second-fastest reading in 2 years.
The new home market represents an interesting opportunity for home buyers. Builders are facing new competition from bank-owned homes and foreclosures, dragging builder confidence to all-time lows. Furthermore, builders have low expectations for the next 6 months.
As a buyer, you can use this to your advantage. Builders may be more willing to negotiate on price and finishes versus this time last year. You may find a good “deal” in new construction once you go in search of it.