Sales of new homes plunged 14.5% in March to a 384,000 annualized pace, the lowest level in eight months, the Commerce Department reported April 23.
The median forecast of 74 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for the pace to accelerate to 450,000.
The housing recovery has slowed as higher borrowing costs and rising prices make properties less affordable. Shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor also have hindered construction as the market heads into its busiest time of year.
“The housing market is in a rut that’s so far not showing signs of getting better,” said Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. “They don’t have enough lots, they don’t have enough workers. That’s playing a big role.”
Commerce revised the February reading to a 449,000 pace from a previously estimated 440,000.
Purchases slumped in three of four regions, led by a 21.5% drop in the Midwest, the biggest since September 2012. The West fell 16.7% to an 80,000 annualized rate, the weakest since January 2012.