New Home Sales Plummet 11.3% in May

The May release for new home sales from the Census Bureau came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 619,000 units, lower than the 636,000 forecast. New home sales are down 11.3% month-over-month from a revised rate of 698,000 in April and are down 16.5% from one year ago.

For a longer-term perspective, here is a snapshot of the data series, which is produced in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The data since January 1963 is available in the St. Louis Fed's FRED repository here. We've included a six-month moving average to highlight the trend in this highly volatile series.

New Home Sales

Over this time frame, we see the steady rise in new home sales following the 1990 recession and the acceleration in sales during the real estate bubble that peaked in 2005. Starting in 2011, there was a similar rise in new home sales that peaked near the end of 2020 and retracted for about two years. New home sales recently saw steady growth for the first half of 2023 but have been easing as of late.