Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Sales of newly built homes in the U.S. fell in February, evidence that the severe weather and higher mortgage rates slowed down the housing market.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, new home sales dropped 3.3 percent to an annual rate of 440,000 from the previous month, according to the Commerce Department report released Tuesday. January’s strong performance was revised down, to an annual pace of 455,000.
The new-home sales figure comprises a small portion of total U.S. home purchases and typically subject to huge revisions. The data, however, offer a more current picture of market trends compared with other indicators because they are measured during contract signing rather than at its closing.
Sales last month came in below the 445,000 pace predicted by economists and was the lowest since September last year.
Tuesday’s report showed signs of lesser home-price pressures. Last month, the median price for a new home sold dropped 1.2 percent to $261,800 in the same period last year.
Last week, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it may take a more aggressive stance for any interest-rate increases in the future, adding an upward pressure on mortgage rates in the coming months.