New Home Sales Post Biggest Drop in Nearly a Year

New Home Sales
Mark Lennihan/AP
By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON -- Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell sharply in June and the prior month's data was revised to show less robust growth, suggesting the housing market would struggle to regain momentum.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that sales dropped 8.1 percent, the largest decline since July 2013, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000 units.

May's sales pace was revised to 442,000 units from the previously reported 504,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales at a 479,000-unit pace last month. Compared to June of last year, sales were down 11.5 percent.

A run-up in mortgage rates, as well as a shortage of properties for sale, pressured home sales late last year, raising concerns that a weak housing market could undercut economic growth.

Though housing appears to be on the mend with mortgage rates well off their September peak and job growth gathering momentum, the sector will probably continue to lag the overall economy.

Last month, new home sales fell in all four regions, declining by 20 percent in the Northeast.

The inventory of new houses on the market rose 3.1 percent to 197,000 units, the highest number since October 2010. At June's sales pace it would take 5.8 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, the highest since October 2011.

11 Pluses and Pitfalls of Moving to an 'Up-and-Coming' Neighborhood
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New Home Sales Post Biggest Drop in Nearly a Year
If you're not one of the first ones to "discover" a gentrifying neighborhood, prices may have already climbed too high due to real estate speculation.
You may be familiar with the mantra "buy the worst house on the nicest block you can afford," a strategy for landing yourself in a desirable neighborhood without breaking the bank. "Invest in an up-and-coming neighborhood" is its cousin. You can find a house that meets your needs in an emerging neighborhood for way less than a comparable home in a more coveted area -- and soon enough (if all goes well), your area may be just as desirable.
Up-and-coming neighborhoods don't always up and come. Sometimes, an area that looks promising just gets stuck where it is. Investing in a neighborhood in transition is a calculated risk -- so calculate it before you buy.
If you want to live in the heart of a big city, but don't have the cash to afford a place downtown, finding a transitioning neighborhood on its fringe could be just the solution. You'll be close to where the action is -- and the revitalization will mean there's plenty of action directly around you, too -- but you won't pay sky-high prices.
Emerging neighborhoods can sometimes have higher crime rates than more-established locales. There's a chance gentrification will reduce that in the future, butin the near term, you'll have to decide if you're willing to live in an area that might not be as safe as you're used to.
Since the area you're considering isn't on the radar of the wider home-buying public -- yet -- you could enjoy some serious value appreciation (especially if you do some good renovation work), netting you more money when you eventually sell.
If you have kids -- or plan to soon -- you'll want to evaluate the quality of the school district they'd be going into. Gentrification tends to upgrade the quality of the schools in a neighborhood, but they may not have improved enough for your comfort by the time your kids hit the classrooms.
Up-and-coming neighborhoods offer a certain "coolness factor," as hip young people and artists tend to be among the first wave of gentrifiers. If you enjoy patronizing independent businesses, dining at new restaurants, and riding the forefront of the latest trends, you could feel right at home.
If you're living in an area with a lot of artists or students, it may be too noisy or messy. Make sure to visit properties you're interested in at different points of the day (Sunday morning, Monday evening rush-hour) to get a feel for what it's really like to live there.
People who move to emerging neighborhoods often actively identify with their communities. They're looking for like-minded people who care about the place they call home. As a result, you may find a real community spirit, with neighbors who are eager to get to know each other, pitch in and help the area realize its potential.
There's likely no neighborhood association to govern the exterior upkeep of houses -- but you might consider this a plus, as lack of a covenant-controlled community also lets homeowners express their personal style more freely.
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