Discover more from CalculatedRisk Newsletter
New Home Sales increase to 763,000 Annual Rate in May
Median New Home Price is Down 16.2% from the Peak
The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 763 thousand. The previous three months were revised down slightly, combined.
Sales of new single‐family houses in May 2023 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 763,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 12.2 percent above the revised April rate of 680,000 and is 20.0 percent above the May 2022 estimate of 636,000.
The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate.
New home sales are above pre-pandemic levels. The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply.
The months of supply decreased in May to 6.7 months from 7.6 months in April. The all-time record high was 12.2 months of supply in January 2009. The all-time record low was 3.3 months in August 2020. This is above the top of the normal range (about 4 to 6 months of supply is normal).
"The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of May was 428,000. This represents a supply of 6.7 months at the current sales rate."
On inventory, according to the Census Bureau:
"A house is considered for sale when a permit to build has been issued in permit-issuing places or work has begun on the footings or foundation in nonpermit areas and a sales contract has not been signed nor a deposit accepted."
Starting in 1973 the Census Bureau broke this down into three categories: Not Started, Under Construction, and Completed. The third graph shows the three categories of inventory starting in 1973.
The inventory of completed homes for sale (red) - at 69 thousand - is more than double the record low of 32 thousand in 2021 and early 2022. This is getting close to the normal level of completed homes for sale and increasing.
The inventory of homes under construction (blue) at 259 thousand is very high, and about 18% below the cycle peak in July 2022. The inventory of homes not started is at 100 thousand - just below the record peak of 102 thousand.
The fourth graph shows existing home sales for each month, Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA), for a few selected periods. Black is the maximum sales per month during the bubble (2005) and light gray is the minimum sales during the bust (2008 - 2011). The most recent five years are shown (2019 through 2023).
In May 2023 (red column), 73 thousand new homes were sold (NSA). Last year, 58 thousand homes were sold in May. The all-time high for May was 120 thousand in 2005, and the all-time low for May was 26 thousand in 2010.
The next graph shows new home sales for 2022 and 2023 by month (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate). Sales in May 2023 were up 20.0% from May 2022. Year-to-date sales are down 4.7% compared to the same period in 2022.
As expected, new home sales were up year-over-year in May.
Four Months of Unsold Inventory Under Construction
The next graph shows the months of supply by stage of construction. “Months of supply” is inventory at each stage, divided by the sales rate.
There are 1.1 months of completed supply (red line). This is slightly below the normal level.
The inventory of new homes under construction is at 4.1 months (blue line). This has declined from 7 months in July 2022, but is still a large number of homes under construction.
And about 1.6 months of potential inventory have not been started (grey line) - about double the normal level. Homebuilders are probably waiting to start some homes until they have a firmer grasp on prices and demand.
Median Prices 15.3% Down from Peak
And on prices, from the Census Bureau:
The median sales price of new houses sold in May 2023 was $416,300. The average sales price was $487,300.
The following graph shows the median and average new home prices. The average price in May 2023 was $487,300 down 7% year-over-year. The median price was $416,300 down 8% year-over-year. Both the median and the average are impacted by the mix of homes sold.
The median price is down 16.2% from the peak in 2022, and the average prices is down 14.3% from the peak.
The last graph shows the percent of new homes sold by price.
About 18% of new homes sold were under $300K in May 2023. This is up from recent months, but down from around 80% in 2002. In general, the under $300K bracket is going away (inflation has pushed prices higher).
In April, 65% of sales were under $500K and 35% over $500K. The percent over $500K is down from just under 50% at the peak in 2022.
Rick Palacios Jr., Director of Research at John Burns Research and Consulting wrote last week:
The surge in May housing starts ‘officially’ reported today mirrors what our home builder survey signaled several weeks back. Expecting similar pattern when the ‘official’ May new home sales results get released next week.
And that is exactly what happened.
Sales were above expectations, likely due to the dearth of existing home inventory, and that builders are buying down mortgage rates. It seems likely that new home sales bottomed in mid-2022.
As previously discussed, the Census Bureau overestimates sales, and underestimates inventory when cancellation rates are rising, see: New Home Sales and Cancellations: Net vs Gross Sales. This has reversed now since cancellation rates have started to decline. When a previously cancelled home is resold, the home builder counts it as a sale, but the Census Bureau does not (since it was already counted).
Palacios told me that the builders have resold most of their previously cancelled homes.
Yes on resold question. If that weren’t true we’d be seeing finished standing inventory still high, but it too is quickly falling in our survey & also below what builders (and we) consider normal. All part of why builders started stepping on the starts gas pedal last few months.
There are still a large number of homes under construction, but in general, this is another positive report for new home sales.
CalculatedRisk Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.