One month after the federal homebuyer tax credit’s official expiration, the New Home Sales report turned in its worst showing ever.
In May 2010, for the first time in 11 months, the inventory of unsold new homes crossed the 8-month marker, posting an 8.5 month supply overall.
Additionally, new homes sales volume fell to 300,000 units nationwide — a drop of 32% and its lowest level since the Commerce Department started tracking data in 1963.
Now, universally, the press is referring to the May New Home Sales report as “poor“. A closer look, however, shows that may not be the case.
For one, we have to keep New Home Sales in perspective as a percentage of overall home sales. Yes, there were just 300,000 new homes sold in May, but there were also 5.66 million “existing” homes sold.
New Home Sales, therefore, accounted for just 5 percent of the total housing market — a very small percentage.
Another reason why the weak New Home Sales data isn’t so awful is that, when New Home Sales stall, it actually benefits home buyers. Excess supply puts a strain on sellers which, in turn, gives buyers a tremendous amount of leverage in negotiation.
When home inventories are high, builders are more apt to appease their customers in hopes of making a sale. For home buyers, this can result in buying a better product at a lower price.
Especially with builder confidence plummeting.
Since February 2009, housing has shown steady gains. There’s been both peaks and valleys across units, inventories, and prices, but overall, the market is improving. May’s New Home Sales data shows how now may an opportune time to “buy new”.