New home sales up 17%

Posted: April 10, 2013 in California Real Estate News, National Real Estate News

If you can’t find a sales agent to help you at new housing projects, don’t be surprised.

Sales are up 17 percent over year-ago levels, and there’s not much inventory of unsold units available, according to the New Housing Monitor published by the Hanley Group in Oceanside.

As of March 31, 775 homes — 519 detached and 256 attached — had been sold since the beginning of year, compared with 661 for the same period last year. That’s the highest for this time of the year since April 2007’s 2,119 sales in the pre-bust cycle.

The number of weeks of inventory at the current sales pace dropped to only 5.6 weeks, the lowest for the same week of the year since the five-week level in 2004. Inventories rose to as high as 57.4 weeks for the same point in 2008 on the eve of the Great Recession.

This year, the opening inventory for the second quarter included 336 new houses, condos and townhouses for sale, down 68.1 percent from 1,054 homes at this same period last year.

Homes planned but not yet released or built totaled 12,646, but builders are not moving fast enough to replace the sold units with new ones.

Peter Dennehy, senior vice president at Meyers Research, said he recently visited the Del Sur master-planned community in the state Route 56 corridor and found that virtually all projects were sold out.

“Builders are frantically grading for the next phase of lots,” Dennehy said, “but they probably won’t start production on the houses for a couple of months.”

He said he also checked with 4S Ranch west of Rancho Bernardo and found that it’s down to the last new-home sale.

“They can’t offer any new product,” he said.

Civitas in Mission Valley, Harmony Grove in Escondido and several projects in Chula Vista also are in the grading stage, but homes aren’t yet for sale, he said.

“The sales in the last six months have been a little stronger than people projected,” Dennehy said. “Everyone thought there was a potential for another slowdown around the beginning of the year, but that didn’t really happen. The market’s been a little stronger than expected.”

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