12:27pm

Mon April 25, 2011
Planet Money

New Home Sales: Still Super Low. Foreclosures: Still Super High.

The state U.S. housing market, summed up in one rhetorical question:

Why buy a brand new house when you can pick up a foreclosure on the cheap?

In other words:

1. Sales of newly built homes remained super-low in March, according to government figures released this morning. It would take more than seven months to sell all the new homes on the market; in a healthy market, it's typically less than six months.

2. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) accounted for nearly half of overall home sales in March, according to today's results from a monthly survey published by Campbell and Inside Mortgage Finance. This was the second-highest reading from the survey in the past year.

Still, there are a few promising signs in today's numbers.

Although there's still a glut of newly built homes, the glut is shrinking. That's largely because construction of new homes has slowed way down. And even though new-home sales were super low in March, they were up 11 percent from February, when they hit an all-time low.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.