New home sales increased to 417,000 units on a seasonally adjusted annual basis in March.  This was a 1.5 percent increase from the revised estimate of 411,000 units in February and an increase of 18.5 percent from March 2012, but fell short of the consensus estimate at 420,000 units.

On a regional basis, sales in the Northeast jumped from a pace of 34,000 homes in February to 41,000 in March, an increase of 20.6 percent.  Sales were up 32.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Sales in the Midwest lost ground, dropping 12.1 percent in March with sales at a rate of 51,000 units compared to 58,000 in February.  The March number was still an increase of 21.4 percent from a year earlier.

The pace of sales increased by 19.4 percent in the South to 215,000 on a seasonally adjusted annual basis from 180,000 in February.  March sales were 8.0 percent higher than in March 2012.

The West saw a decline of 20.9 percent in March sales.  The annual rate dropped from 139,000 in February to 110,000 in March.  Sales in the West were, however, 37.5 percent above same-month sales in 2012.

The inventory of new homes for sale was unchanged at 4.4 months.  There were 153,000 homes for sale at the end of the period compared to 150,000 at the end of February and 145,000 in March 2012, a 4.9 month supply.  Of those 153,000 available homes 42,000 are considered to be completed.

The median price of homes sold in March was $247,000 compared to 239,800 in March 2012.  The average prices for the two periods were 279,900 and 283,600.  Homes that sold in March were on the market for a median of five months after completion.