Analyst Note| Brian Bernard |
New-home sales have remained resilient despite worsening housing affordability in recent months amid rising mortgage rates, with little relief in home prices in most markets. Year-to-date new-home sales through July were about even with the year-ago period, compared with a 22% decline in existing-home sales. The key to homebuilders’ relative success this year has been their ability to improve affordability by offering sales incentives, lowering base prices, and building smaller homes. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the share of builders offering incentives was 55% in August, up from 52% in July but down from 62% last year. One fourth of homebuilders reported lowering base prices by 6% on average. Homebuilders have also boosted production of speculative homes to capitalize on the tight supply of existing for-sale homes. Spec building also helps builders better manage construction cycle times and costs.