New Home Sales, Housing Prices Jump

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New-home sales and housing prices, by far the most important economic indicators affecting sales of pools and spas, saw strong growth in January, providing more evidence that recovery in the housing market is well underway and offering encouragement to the aquatic fitness and leisure industry.

The 15.6 percent boost in new-home sales was the largest month-to-month increase in nearly two decades, and translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000 units, according to the Commerce Dept.

At the same time, Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that the median housing price rose by more than 2 percent to $226,400.

These results were well in excess of expectations, and helped fuel optimism among home builders that the market’s recovery, which became evident in the latter half of 2012, is continuing and even gaining steam.

The housing market is still far from healthy, however. To put this year’s annualized rate in perspective, new home sales reached a high in July 2005, when they hit an annualized pace of nearly 1.4 million. They declined in the recession to a low of 273,000 in February 2011.

Lender caution, unemployment and economic uncertainty remain a drag on sales, while a significant percentage of homeowners remain stuck with a mortgage greater than the home’s value, preventing them from moving and buying a new house.

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