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NEW HOME SALES REBOUND IN APRIL

 WASHINGTON, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- New home sales soared in April after an unusually weak first quarter, increasing 23 percent from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 751,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
 "The March blizzard that hit the South and Northeast wreaked havoc on new home sales," said J. Roger Glunt, president of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder from Pittsburgh. "In April, buyers came back into the market, spurred by better weather and low mortgage interest rates."
 The regions of the country hardest hit by the late winter storm showed the biggest gains in April. In the Northeast, where builders had to shut down operations for a week or two in March, sales jumped 102 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 111,000. The South, which also was hurt by the storm, gained 17 percent to an annual rate of 315,000. The other regions of the country also fared well. Sales climbed 12 percent in the Midwest to 122,000, and 13 percent in the West to 203,000.
 First quarter sales were also slowed by rising lumber prices, which peaked in mid-March at $506 per 1,000 board feet. A survey of NAHB members found that 40 percent of builders had suffered lost or postponed sales due to the spike in prices. Prices have since receded, another factor that helped April sales recover.
 The April figure represented a healthy 36 percent increase over April of 1992, a sign that housing is indeed on the rebound. But the unusually strong annual rate of 751,000 new home sales set in April is not expected to hold up in the coming months. NAHB is predicting new home sales will reach 669,000 this year, up about 10 percent from last year's 609,000.
 "Much of the increase is due to the better weather experienced across the country in April, but we're still optimistic that housing will continue to show gains through the year," said Glunt.
 He cautioned that for housing to have a strong year, interest rates must remain low, Congress must end its gridlock and pass President Clinton's economic plan and the supply of timber, and therefore the price of lumber, must be stabilized.
 "The nation needs a strong housing market to lead the recovery, but without continued low interest rates, a steady supply of lumber, and a plan to spur the economy and cut the federal deficit, the health of the housing industry and the recovery could be in jeopardy," Glunt said.
 New home prices increased modestly in April, moving up 2 percent from March to a median price of $127,500. The average new home price inched up 1 percent to $146,400. The increase in prices is attributable to the strength of sales in high-cost areas, like the Northeast.
 -0- 6/2/93
 /CONTACT: Jay Shackford of the National Association of Home Builders, 202-822-0406/


CO: National Association of Home Builders ST: District of Columbia IN: CST SU: ECO

DC-IH -- DC025 -- 4532 06/02/93 14:28 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 2, 1993
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