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New Home Sales Spike 9.6% in January

Sales numbers for new single-family homes last month beat out consensus forecasts by a wide margin, showing at least some housing metrics were able to endure the month’s wintry weather.

According to estimates released Wednesday by the Census Bureau and HUD, new single-family homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000, up 9.6 percent from December’s upwardly revised rate of 427,000. Compared to last year, January sales increased 2.2 percent.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg anticipated a drop to 400,000 from December’s originally reported pace of 414,000.

Regionally, the Northeast led in gains, with sales rocketing 73.7 percent to a pace of 33,000—more than wiping out a drop recorded in December. The South and West also posted increases: Sales were up 10.4 percent to a pace of 276,000 in the South and 11.0 percent to 111,000 in the West, the Commerce Department reported.

The Midwest was the only region reporting a decline; sales there were down 17.2 percent month-over-month to a rate of 48,000.

The overall increase should come as welcome news to a market in slowdown. For the same month that new home sales surged, existing-home sales (as reported by the National Association of Realtors) plummeted to an 18-month low, with tight credit, limited inventory, and lower affordability to blame—as well as the weather.

Also down last month were numbers for new housing construction: Starts saw a monthly drop of 16 percent, coming back down below the one million mark, while permits retreated 5.4 percent.

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