WASHINGTON: Sales of new homes accelerated last month across most of the United States, jumping to a 15-year high and more than recovering from cooling caused by winter storms in February, the government reported Friday.
The supply of homes for sale continues to be a limiting factor, but most economists expect robust demand to continue in the hot housing market that has been a bright spot in the world’s largest economy in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 20.7 percent surge in March pushed the annualized sales rate to more than 1.02 million single-family homes, the Commerce Department reported, its highest level since August 2006 before the mortgage market implosion sparked the 2008 global financial crisis.
Unlike the frenzied activity in the lead up to that crisis, rising mortgage rates caused six weeks of declines in home loan applications, before a dip in interest rates last week fuelled a slight rebound from would-be homebuyers.
The annual sales rate was nearly 67 percent higher than in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US economy, according to the data.
The rebound was much bigger than analysts were expecting, and ran contrary to the 3.7 percent decline in existing home sales last month, a far larger market that was chilled by tight supply and rising prices.