It's all relative.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said that applications for the purchase of newly constructed homes rose a scant 0.3 percent in April, on its face sort of a disappointing number for the heart of the "spring market."  However, that increase was on top of a 17 percent surge in March, indicating that the new home sales continue to be strong.   

MBA's new home numbers are based on mortgage application data gathered through its Builder Application Survey (BAS) of mortgage subsidiaries of new home builders.  It is not adjusted for typical seasonal patterns.

Based on data from the BAS the MBA estimates new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 487,000 units in April compared to a seasonally adjusted rate of 510,000 units in March, a decrease of 4.5 percent.  On an unadjusted basis, the estimate for new home sales in April was 48,000 units, down 2 percent from 49,000 units in March.  These estimates are derived from survey information as well as assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Chief Economist said, "Applications were essentially flat in April, but March and April builder applications were at their highest levels since we began tracking them in August 2012. On a year over year basis, applications to builders for new home mortgages were up 16 percent.  Although our survey indicates there was likely a slight decrease in new homes sales in April, we had seen increased activity earlier in the year, so borrowers who were able to enter the market got a head start on the traditional spring buying season."

Sixty-seven percent of applications were for conventional loans and 18.8 percent for loans backed by FHAVA loans comprised 12.8 percent of the total and RHS/USDA loans 1.4 percent.  The average loan size of new homes increased from $314,394 in March to $315,670 in April, its highest level in the history of the survey.

Official new home sales estimates are provided by the Census Bureau on a monthly basis.  In that data, new home sales are recorded at contract signing, which is typically coincident with the mortgage application. April Census data will be released on May 26.