From CNN Money:
With rising mortgage rates driving up the cost of financing home purchases, most economists have been looking for the real estate market to cool off in 2006 after several years of record sales.
But economist Bob Brusca said last month’s drop in new home prices is a sign that the market for new homes isn’t nearly as strong as the jump in sales would suggest.
He noted that the report showed an unusual drop in prices from both February and a year earlier, which could be a sign that home builders are cutting prices to move a large supply of new homes now on the market.
“New homes sales sprang back top life like a zombie in a cheap horror flick,” Brusca said. “And like that zombie, housing really is dead. Don’t let all that twitching fool you.”
He said that many of the new homes sold in March were probably built in a stronger real estate market.
And unlike existing homes, where sellers can live until they get an acceptable price, “builders can’t live in these houses unless they have a lot of family,” he said. “By and large they must finance them at rising interest costs.”
Meanwhile, average prices fell 7.1 percent from February to $279,100, after topping $300,000 for the first time in the February revised figures. The median price, which reflects the point at which half the homes sell for more and half sell for less, also fell 6.5 percent to $224,200.
And while month-to-month declines in home prices are not unusual, more significantly, prices also fell from a year earlier: a 2.2 percent decline in median prices and a 3.6 percent fall in average prices over that time. (emphasis added -grim)