© Bloomberg. New homes under construction by Pardee Construction LLC are seen in this aerial photograph taken over the Pacific Highlands Ranch master planned community in San Diego, California, on Aug. 31, 2020.
(Bloomberg) — Sales of new U.S. homes rose in December to a nine-month high, indicating firmer demand at the end of 2021 despite high prices and still-limited inventory.
Purchases rose 11.9% to an 811,000 annualized pace from a revised 725,000 a month earlier, government data showed Wednesday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 760,000 rate.
An increase in the number of completed homes over the last two months and prospects of higher interest rates this year as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy may have encouraged a pickup in contract signings. While potential buyers are still seeking more space as well as investment properties, prices remain high and builders continue to face some materials bottlenecks and labor constraints.
Even so, a separate report from the Conference Board on Tuesday showed home-buying plans over the next six months rose to a record high.
The new-home sales report, produced by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, showed the median sales price of a new home climbed 3.4% from a year earlier to $377,700.
For the full year, sales decreased to 762,000 from 822,000 in 2020, the report showed.
At the end of December, there were 403,000 new homes for sale, up slightly from a month earlier. At the current sales pace, it would take 6 months to exhaust the supply of new homes, compared with 3.8 months a year ago.
Of the homes sold last month, construction on 231,000 had yet to be started, the most since May. Already completed homes rose to a three-month high of 187,000.
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