The Commerce Department reported(.pdf) that new home sales surged 27 percent in March as buyers rushed to get under contract in advance of the expiring homebuyer tax credit next week. As opposed to  yesterday’s report on existing home sales that reflect closings, new home sales figures reflect contracts signed, meaning that there may be even more sales next month but, after that, another post-incentive plunge should be expected.

Homebuilders sold new houses as an annual rate of 411,000 in March, up from the all-time low of 308,000 in February and the highest level since last July. Inventory plunged, down from an 8.6 month supply to just 6.7 months, the lowest level since December 2006.