Sales of new homes dropped sharply last month, falling 14.5% to their weakest level since mid-2013, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.
The annual sales rate was 384,000, down from February’s revised rate of 449,000.
Economists had predicted an annual rate of 450,000, according to the median forecast in Action Economics survey.
That would be a little higher than last year’s average monthly rate of 431,000, but less than half the 1-million-plus average the industry saw from 2000 through 2006.
Although the housing market typically improves this time of year, the spring buying season has shown little strength so far this year.
The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that March existing home sales fell 0.2% to an annual rate of 4.59 million.