New home sales fell 18 percent during the month of December compared with December 2017, according to data compiled by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, a California-based housing research and analytics firm. Official government data wasn’t available due to the ongoing shutdown, which is 21 days old.

In addition, JBRC’s analyst data showed sales fell 19 percent annually in November. The firm uses 373 market ratings by local builders who oversee more than 3,500 new home communities.

Four interest rate hikes in 2018 certainly had a hand in the sales slump.

“I think the 4.5 percent plus mortgage rate is just a double whammy,” said John Burns, CEO of JBRC. “It’s keeping entry level buyers out of the market. They’re very disappointed with what they can afford, and it’s keeping current homeowners who want to move locked in, because their current mortgage rate is so much lower.”

Real estate ETFs, however, sloughed off the data. Vanguard Real Estate ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ) ticked 0.28 percent higher and Schwab US REIT ETF (NYSEArca: SCHH) edged 0.23 percent higher.

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