US home sales hindered by consumers' concerns about rising mortgage interest rates, weak job growth, political uncertainty; more buyers expected to return to housing market when psychological impact of higher mortgage rates wears off: NAHB

WASHINGTON , September 25, 2013 (press release) – Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 7.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 421,000 units in August, according to newly released figures from HUD and U.S. Census Bureau. The gain partly offsets a dip in sales activity that occurred in July as consumers reacted to higher interest rates.

“Consumers are adjusting to the reality of today’s higher rates following a period of record-setting lows, and today’s sales report provides evidence of that,” said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “We expect to see more buyers coming back to the market as the psychological effects of the rate gains continue to wear off, particularly since, even after the recent spike, mortgage rates remain exceptionally favorable on a historic basis.”

“Sales of new homes bounced partway back in August from an unusual low in July,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That said, we are only about halfway back to what would be considered a sustainable level of activity in a normal economy, and the ongoing housing recovery continues to be slowed by consumers’ concerns about interest rates, as well as weak job growth and uncertainty about what’s happening in Washington.”

Three out of four regions posted solid gains in new-home sales activity in August. Sales rose 8.8 percent in the Northeast, 19.6 percent in the Midwest and 15.3 percent in the South for the month. The West was the exception to the rule, with a 14.6 percent decline.

While the months’ supply of new homes edged down to 5.0 due to the quicker sales pace in August, the total inventory rose for a seventh consecutive month, to 175,000 units.

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