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NEW HOME SALES DOWN 2.7 PERCENT IN FEBRUARY

 NEW HOME SALES DOWN 2.7 PERCENT IN FEBRUARY
 WASHINGTON, March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- New home sales fell by 2.7


percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 613,000 units, the Commerce Department reported today. However, sales are up 25 percent from February of 1991.
 New home sales for January were revised upward from 612,000 to 630,000, and though February's numbers remain strong, the outlook for future demand is cloudy, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
 "We appear to have hit a plateau," said Robert "Jay" Buchert, president of NAHB. "Mortgage rates bottomed out near 8 percent earlier this year and are now ho00 tax credit for first-time home buyers, could slow sales later this spring."
 Sales fell 14.4 percent in the Midwest to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 125,000 following a jump in January to a rate of 146,000, the highest level since October of 1978. Sales slipped 1.7 percent in the South to a rate of 236,000.
 Sales rose 14.1 percent in the Northeast to a rate of 73,000. They remained unchanged at 180,000 in the West.
 The median price of a new home fell to $117,000 in February, off $6,000 from January. The price of an average home was off slightly, to $144,700 from $145,100. Monthly prices tend to be volatile and depend heavily upon the mix of homes sold regionally.
 The number of new homes for sale in the United States fell to 272,000 in February. Regionally, inventory levels in the Northeast and West declined to 58,000 and 74,000, respectively.
 "The ongoing inventory improvements are laying the groundwork for a sustained housing upswing as long as the demand side of the market is maintained," said Buchert. "The strength of that demand depends upon the course of interest rates and the prospect of the home buyer tax credit."
 -0- 3/30/92
 /CONTACT: Jay Shackford of the National Association of Home Builders, 202-822-0406/ CO: National Association of Home Builders ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO


DC -- DC024 -- 3051 03/30/92 16:28 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 30, 1992
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