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US new home sales unexpectedly fall as mortgage rates and prices rise

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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) – Sales of new single-family homes in the United States fell unexpectedly in February amid rising mortgage rates and home prices, which are reducing affordability for first-time buyers.

New home sales fell 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 772,000 units last month, falling for the second month in a row, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

January’s sales pace was revised down to 788,000 units from 801,000 previously reported. New houses are a leading indicator of the housing market, since they are counted at the signing of the contract.

“Rising mortgage rates and high prices will be key issues and could affect home sales going forward,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.

Economists polled by Reuters estimated that new home sales, which make up 11.4% of US home sales, would rebound to a pace of 810,000 units. Sales are already down 6.2% year-on-year in February. They reached a maximum of 993,000 units in one of 2021, the highest level of the 2006 finals. However, they remain above their pre-pandemic level.

Mortgage rates rose in February and have continued to rise after the Federal Reserve last week raised its interest rate by 25 basis points, the first increase in just over three years, and laid out an aggressive plan to carry out costs. of credit a restrictive level by 2023.

The new home market continues to be supported by inventories near record lows for existing homes. Last week’s data showed that existing home sales fell hard in February.

The average price of new life in February is 10.7% per year over a period of $400,600. There were 407,000 new homes on the market, the highest level since August 2008 and up from 398,000 units in January.

The day of the month of February is necessary 6.3 months before the life offer on the market, before the end of the month 6.1 months.

(Reporting by Lucía Mutikani Edited in Spanish by Manuel Farías)

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