Sales of new homes bounced back in February, another sign of continued, if subdued, momentum in the housing market.
New home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 512,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the highest since December, and was just below the consensus forecast of 515,000 among economists surveyed by MarketWatch.
February’s rate was 2% higher than January’s, but 6.1% lower than year-ago levels. But the tally in February 2015 was unusual; there were 501,000 new homes sold all year. January figures, initially reported as a 494,000 rate, were revised up to 502,000.
The median sales price in February was $301,400, up 6.2% compared to January. There was 5.6 months’ worth of supply available at the current sales pace at the end of the month.
The total number of homes for sale at the end of the month was the highest since October 2009, and the total number of homes under construction was the highest since December 2008.
Home builders have remained tentative about ramping up construction since the recession. The economic recovery has been choppy, with grudgingly slow wage growth holding back homeownership. And builders have found it hard to lure enough workers and secure affordable plots of land.