December 22, 2017 / 3:06 PM / a year ago

U.S. new home sales race to more than 10-year high in November

FILE PHOTO: A real estate sign advertising a new home for sale is pictured in Vienna, Virginia, U.S. October 20, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes unexpectedly rose in November, hitting their highest level in more than 10 years, driven by robust demand across the country.

The Commerce Department said on Friday new home sales jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733,000 units last month. That was the highest level since July 2007 and followed October’s downwardly revised sales pace of 624,000 units. New home sales surged 26.6 percent from a year ago.

That together with last month’s surge in single-family homebuilding and sales of previously owned homes suggests the housing market is regaining momentum after stalling this year. Housing has been constrained by shortages of homes for sale, skilled labor and suitable land for building.

Activity was also temporarily restrained by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. October’s new homes sales pace was previously reported at 685,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales falling 4.7 percent to a pace of 654,000 units last month.

New home sales, which are drawn from permits, are volatile on a month-to-month basis. They rose in all four regions. In November, the inventory of new homes on the market was unchanged at 283,000 units. At November’s sales pace it would take 4.6 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, the fewest since July 2016 and down from 5.4 months in October. A six-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

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