St. Cloud house sales do usually respond in the seasonal pattern that is familiar in most other areas. Spring and summer lead the way for weather-related, financial, school scheduling and other family-related reasons. From now into well past July (and sometimes even August), house sales activity can be counted on to peak. Those are the normal expectations.
But when any segment of U.S. house sales numbers quadruple expectations even before spring bulbs see daylight, that’s worthy of special attention. That was the case last Thursday when the Commerce Department reported that in February, purchases of newly built homes rose by more than 6%. Since The Wall Street Journal’s panel of experts had forecast 1.4%, it drew headlines.
In fact, this was the second month in a row for sharp rises in U.S. new home sales—and what could be a bright sign for St. Cloud’s own prospects as the spring selling season begins. Press reports were, to put it mildly, enthusiastic:
MartketWatch: “New-home sales roar to a 7-month high”
Reuters: “…strength in housing should underpin economic growth”
ABC News: “Americans…snapping up new homes at the fastest pace since July”
Bloomberg: “U.S. New-Home Sales Climbed to a Seven-Month High”
CNBC: “[Sales] were the highest since July of last year—and that was the best number since January of 2008”
Bloomberg’s Michelle Jamrisko deduced from the house sales rise that the impact from the recent rise in borrowing costs was, at most, “modest.” That sentiment was echoed by the Realtor, which quoted the National Association of Housing’s chief economist. “The uptick in mortgage interest rates,” he said, “is having a minimal effect.”
We’ll have to wait and see whether that is true vis-à-vis the impact of mortgage interest rates on St. Cloud’s own house sales. They might be either “modest” or “minimal”—or the prospect of continuing hikes might induce more St. Cloud prospects to get busy sooner rather than later. If “sooner” describes your own inclination, I hope you’ll decide to put thought into action by giving me a call!
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