Implications: New home sales continue to be a bright spot for the US economy. Single-family homes sold at a 719,000 annual rate in November, up 1.3% from October and up 16.9% from a year ago. The average sales pace in the past three months sits at a post-recession high, a key sign the US is not headed for recession. New home sales normally run around 70% of single-family housing starts but have now exceeded that threshold for each of the past ten months, sitting at 76.7% in November, and signaling plenty of appetite for new homes. In other words, home construction needs to pick up to keep pace with consumers' appetites. The good news is that builders are responding, with the number of new single-family housing starts surging over the past several months to within spitting distance of new highs for this business cycle. This is also beginning to show up in the inventory of new homes available for sale, which had been on a sustained downward trend since January but has begun to level off. Affordability has been playing a big role in the recent rebound in sales, with mortgage rates having fallen roughly 110 basis points since peaking in November 2018. With only one month of data left in 2019, it is safe to say that sales will outpace 2018. For the first eleven months of 2019, sales are up 10.2% above the same period in 2018. We expect that sales in 2020 will surpass 2019, continuing that upward trend.
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