Thursday, April 24, 2008

New home sales plunge to lowest level in 16 1/2 years: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

New home sales plunge to lowest level in 16 1/2 years: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Sales of new homes plunged in March to the lowest level in 16 1/2 years as housing slumped further at the start of the spring sales season. The median price of a new home in March compared to a year ago fell by the largest amount in nearly four decades.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new homes dropped by 8.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 526,000 units, the slowest sales pace since October 1991.

The median price of a home sold in March dropped by 13.3 percent compared to March 2007, the biggest year-over-year price decline since a 14.6 percent plunge in July 1970.

The dismal news on new home sales followed earlier reports showing that sales of existing homes fell by 2 percent in March. Housing, which boomed for five years, has been in a prolonged slump for the past two years with sales and home prices falling at especially sharp rates in formerly boom areas of the country.

For March, sales were down in all regions of the country, dropping the most in the Northeast, a decline of 19.4 percent. Sales fell by 12.9 percent in the Midwest, 12.5 percent in the Midwest and 4.6 percent in the South.

In other economic news, orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods fell for a third straight month in March, the longest string of declines since the 2001 recession, while applications for unemployment benefits fell by 33,000 to 342,000.

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