Realty Check

Slight dip in November new home sales after Southern surge

Nov. new home sales down 2.1 percent

Signed purchase contracts for newly built homes were down slightly in November, according to government data, but only after an unexpected upward revision to October's reading and a strange sales surge in the South.

October's national numbers were already up 25 percent from September, so some had expected the revision to go the other way. These readings, based on contracts rather than closings, are highly volatile and have a 20 percent margin of error. Sales are now at an annualized rate of 464,000, the highest in five years.

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"Perspective is needed as it still is just barely above the 1991 recession trough of 401,000 and 338,000 in 1981," analyst Peter Boockvar of the Lindsey Group wrote in a note. "The average since 1980 is 697,000. The flip side of this of course is the enormous catch-up we have ahead of us."