WASHINGTON, DC — After a strong performance in the final three months of 2001, sales of new homes declined nearly 15% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 823,000 units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"We're seeing things slow down from what had been an extraordinary sales pace at the end of last year," stated Gary Garczynski, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). "Even so, there is no indication of fundamental weakness in the market, and higher numbers in February could substantially offset this latest decline."

Garczynski noted that the Census Bureau revised its numbers significantly upward for new home sales in October, November, and December of 2001 in its latest report, and that December's revised 966,000-unit pace was particularly strong. The numbers confirm that new home sales hit a record one-year high of 906,000 units — up from what had already been reported as a record 900,000 units — in 2001.

"Our latest surveys had indicated some retrenchment in builder expectations following the rebound our industry experienced from the effects of Sept. 11," Garczynski said. "Things are likely to smooth out in the year ahead, however, and NAHB is forecasting that total new home sales in 2002 will about equal 2001's record-setting pace of 906,000."

Publication date: 02/25/2002