The report indicates the level of new privately owned one-family houses sold and for sale. New home sales usually have a lagged reaction to changing mortgage rates. They also tend to be stronger early in the business cycle when pent-up demand is strong, and they fade later in the cycle as the demand for housing is sated. In addition to home sales, the market monitors the number of homes for sale relative to the current sales pace. As this inventory measure falls (rises), housing starts tend to rise (fall). Finally, the median home price provides an indication of inflation in the housing sector, though only year/year changes provide any meaningful information.
The home sales report is quite volatile and subject to huge revisions, making
any one month's reading very unreliable. The report rarely prompts a market
reaction. The market prefers the existing home sales report, which has a sample
data pool four times as large and is released earlier in the month.