US sales of new single-family homes tumble 7.3% in December

25 January 2013 16:40  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US sales of new single-family homes fell by 7.3% in December, the Commerce Department said on Friday, marking another monthly slump in what has been an up-and-down recovery for the nation’s housing sector.

In its monthly report, the department said that sales of new one-family homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 units last month, down from the upwardly revised November estimate of 398,000 (also seasonally adjusted and annualised).

However, the revised figures for November show that the market for new homes was substantially better in that month than the initial estimate of only 377,000 units.  That means that November’s sales were more than 10% ahead of October’s pace instead of the initially reported 4.4% boost.

The November upturn was in contrast to the decline in sales of new single-family homes seen in October and weak performance in September.

The long-awaited US housing recovery has been developing since early 2012 when adjusted monthly sales figures began to edge up from the recession-level range of 300,000 units.  The recovery has been spotty at times over the last year, gaining ground in some months and slipping back in others.

But the department noted that the full-year total of 367,000 new one-family homes sold in 2012 was nearly 20% higher than the 2011 figure of 306,000.

December’s new home sales figure of 369,000 also marked an 8.8% improvement compared with the same month of 2011.

While the housing sector is seen to be in recovery, the market remains well below the new home sales pace of the boom years 2003-2006 when the seasonally adjusted annual rate was almost always at 1m units or higher each month and often reached 1.3m.

Many economists doubt that the US will return to those levels, at least not in the foreseeable future.

The housing market is a key downstream consumer sector for the chemicals industry, driving demand for a wide variety of chemicals, resins and derivative products such as plastic pipe, insulation, paints and coatings, adhesives, roofing materials and synthetic fibres.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) estimates that each new home built represents some $15,000 (€11,250) in chemicals and derivatives used in the structure or in production of component materials, equipment and furnishings.

($1 = €0.75)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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