Western US Homebuyers Push up Sales of New Homes in February

U.S. homebuyers in the West accounted for all of February’s increase in sales of new houses, possibly signaling uncertain growth prospects for the broader real estate market heading into the spring buying season. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new-home sales rose 2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 512,000. All of the increase came from 38.5 percent surge in purchases in the West, which reversed a stiff 32.7 percent decline in January that had cut into overall sales. The rebound likely reflected a government report that can be extremely volatile on a monthly basis, clouding some views of where the construction and housing markets are heading at the start of the most intense months for home sales. “At this stage, it is unclear whether new-home sales are plateauing or are still in an uptrend,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR, a forecasting firm.

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