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Economy in Brief

U.S. New-Home Sales Fell During October; Lowest Since 1991
by Tom Moeller December 23, 2008

New single-family homes fell 2.9% m/m during November to 407,000 after a downwardly revised 5.2% October decline. The level of sales in November was off by 71% from the July 2005 peak and sales fell short of Consensus expectations for 415,000.

The m/m change in sales continued mixed by region. Sales in the West rose 11.0% and reversed their October decline. Sales in the Northeast also were up by 14.3% for the second consecutive monthly increase. Working the other way were sales in the Midwest which fell 16.4% to a new low and sales in the South also fell 7.1%, also to a new low.

The median price for a new single-family home gained back more than half of an October decline. The rise to $220,400, nevertheless, left them still off 11.5% y/y. For October, the decline in home prices about matched the 7.5% drop reported by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (FHFA). The FHFA figures, (formerly the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), as well as the Census Dept. figures, are available in Haver's USECON database.

The number of new homes for purchase again fell sharply, by 7.0% (-25.5% y/y). That reduced the inventory of unsold homes to the lowest level since early-2004. In each of the country's regions, the inventory is down 20% to 30% during the last year.

The month's supply of new homes for sale was about unchanged m/m at 11.5.

US New Homes November October Y/Y (%) 2007 2006 2005
Total Sales (SAAR, 000s) 407 419 -35.3 768 1,049 1,279
  Northeast 40 35  -27.3 64 64 81
  Midwest 56 67 -34.9 118 161 203
  South 210 226 -38.1 408 559 638
  West 101 91 -32.2 178 266 356
Median Price (NSA, $) 220,400 214,600 -11.5 243,742 243,067 234,208
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