Report: New-construction home listings drop 4% in August

suburban residential construction
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New listings of newly-built homes dropped 4.1% year over year to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 74,000 in August, reversing course after a 3.8% gain in July, Redfin reports. Meanwhile, new listings of existing homes grew 5.2%.

“There’s plenty of demand for new homes, but builders are facing a unique and costly set of hurdles as they attempt to satisfy that demand,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Listings of new homes aren’t bouncing back as quickly as listings of existing homes because, unlike individual homeowners, construction companies have to deal with lumber and labor shortages during the pandemic. They’re also competing for labor and materials with folks who are renovating their houses during quarantine. The lack of new listings is keeping builders from reaching their full potential in terms of home-sales growth.”

Sales of newly-built homes were up 8.3% year-over-year to 73,000, a deceleration from July’s 13.5% increase, while sales of existing homes rose 10.5%—outpacing new-home sales growth for the first time since 2015.

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The supply of newly-built homes for sale sank 33.6% year-over-year in August to 185,000, while the number of existing homes on the market plunged 38.3%—the largest declines since at least 2013.

The acute dearth of homes for sale, paired with strong homebuyer demand due to record-low mortgage rates, is driving up prices. Newly-built homes sold for a median of $378,000 in August. That’s 4.1% higher than a year earlier, exceeding the pre-coronavirus (February) growth rate for the first time. Meanwhile, existing home prices rose 12.1% to a median of $316,000. Existing homes are typically more affordable, and consequently more desirable for many Americans, explaining the relatively high price growth.

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