Economy

New Home Sales Fell Through Trapdoor In May

It's hard to imagine how a sustainable economic recovery takes hold without the cooperation of the vast housing sector and, right now, it's not cooperating.

For anyone who doesn't know yet, let me break the bad news: new home sales fell 32.7 percent in May from April 2010 to their lowest level since the Census Bureau began collecting the data in 1963.

The Census Bureau reported that May sales were a seasonally adjusted 300,000. April sales were an adjusted 446,000.

New Home Sales Chart
Census Bureau

The report was so bad it will test even the National Association of Realtors' usually bullish ability to spin some good news out of the data.

Economists had forecasts that new home sales would come in at around 405,000.

Over at The Atlantic, Daniel Indiviglio explains that May was even worse than it appears at first blush:

Today's report is bad in pretty much every way imaginable. Not only did May's sales set a new all-time low, but March and April were also revised downward significantly. March fell from 439,000 to 347,000 sales, and April fell from 504,000 to 446,000. If you use the previous estimate for April, home sales would actually have fallen by 40%. So really, May's numbers showed twice the 20% decline economists expected. Given this trend in revisions, it wouldn't be surprising if we learn next month that May's new home sales are even lower than today's first estimate indicates.

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