U.S. purchases of new homes unexpectedly advanced in broad fashion last month, reaching the strongest pace in a decade and offering an encouraging signal for residential construction, according to government data released Monday.
The report showed the U.S. South region continued to recover from a pair of hurricanes. Purchases in other areas of the country, including a 17.9 percent surge in the Midwest, also climbed.
The number of properties sold in which construction hadn’t yet started reached the highest level since January 2007, signaling residential construction will accelerate in coming months.
A steady job market and low mortgage costs are helping propel demand for real estate and pushing up property prices. At the same time, it’s a hurdle for some prospective buyers, especially younger Americans and those entering the market for the first time. The average selling price in October reached a record high $400,200, probably reflecting construction of higher-end homes.
New-home sales, tabulated when contracts get signed, account for about 10 percent of the market. They’re considered a timelier barometer than purchases of previously owned homes, which are calculated when contracts close and are reported by the National Association of Realtors.