New home sales rose 6.1% to 592,000 last month. Gains were spread across the Midwest, South and West. The typically volatile sales for the Northeast region posted a drop of 21.4% from January; that is not a cause for concern for us because the three-month moving average for the Northeast reached a high not seen since September 2009, when the first-time homebuyer tax credit boosted sales across the nation. The other anomaly appeared in the Midwest where unseasonably warm, dry winter weather boosted showroom traffic and sales.
The median sales price of all new homes declined 4.9% from last year. Home builders moved down into the $200,000 to 299,000 price range, which accounted for 36% (up from 31%) of all sales in February.