U.S. New-Home Sales Up 5.7% in August

WASHINGTON—Sales of newly built homes reached the highest level since early 2008 in August, evidence that demand for housing is strengthening heading into the fall.

Sales of new, single-family homes rose by 5.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 552,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The reading was well above economists’ forecast for a rate of 515,000 and comes after July’s reading was revised up to 522,000 from an initially estimated 507,000.

The latest data “point to robust momentum in new home sales,” said Stephen Stanley, economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. He said strong readings could continue for several months because weather delays in the first half of the year may cause housing markets to “remain busy later into the year than usual.”

The latest figure marks a new a postrecession high, supplanting February’s reading. From February until July, sales had settled somewhat but were well above year-earlier levels. The data largely indicates low-interest rates and stronger job creation are supporting demand for new housing.

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