Sales of newly built homes in April beat economists' projections as rising homes prices and low borrowing costs encouraged more Americans to take the homeownership plunge.
New home sales jumped 2.3 percent to a three-month high, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday, hitting a annualized rate of 454,000 units. That was significantly higher than the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, who expected a smaller gain to 425,000 units.
Meanwhile, the median selling price in the United States jumped almost 15 percent, hitting a record high of $271,600. The gain was largely due to sales of more expensive homes, Bloomberg noted.
Improvement in new home sales numbers comes on the heels of gains in existing-home sales numbers released Wednesday, which showed an almost 10 percent year-over-year increase. The good news in housing is being fueled by high demand for both new and previously owned homes, a factor that's likely to keep real estate a bright spot in the nation's economy, experts said.
"Over the past 18 months we've seen housing pull itself off the mat and spring back to life," John Tashjian, principal at New York City-based Centurion Real Estate Partners, wrote in an email. "With better availability of mortgage capital on the horizon, we expect to see a broader housing recovery and future growth for 2013 and 2014."
Despite improving sales numbers, tight inventory continues to limit buyer choice and constrain further gains. According to the Commerce Department, the inventory of new homes for sale held steady at a 4.1-month supply, much lower than the six-month supply experts consider to be ideal.