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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales Remain in the Doldrums
by Carol Stone  August 23, 2011

Total new home sales decreased 0.7% in July, a third successive reduction. June's sales were revised from 312,000 to 300,000, and May's from 315,000 to 309,000. The July volume was a bit weaker than forecast; the Action Economics consensus had anticipated a 1% rise. At the same time, the year-on-year comparison improved to +6.8% after a decline in June of 2.3%.

The sales performance varied widely by region; the South saw a 7.4% drop to 163,000 and the West a 5.9% drop to 64,000. But sales in the Midwest edged up from 42,000 to 43,000 and those in the Northeast surged from 14,000 to 28,000. Home sales have fallen by three-quarters from the record 1,279,000 during all of 2005.

The inventory of unsold homes remained steady at June's 6.6 months' supply (revised from 6.3 months); the last four months have hovered tightly around 6.5-6.6, the lowest levels since late 2006, except for the downtick during the first-time home buyers' credit period in the spring of 2010. The actual number of new homes for sale eased to 165,000, as construction remains slow. Completed new homes were taking 9.4 months to sell on median, down from June's reading of 10.0 months.

The median price of a new single family home dropped back 6.3% m/m to $222,000 compared to June's $235,800.

The data in this report are available in Haver's USECON database.

U.S. New Home Sales Jul Jun May Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total (SAAR, 000s) 298 300 309 6.8 321 374 482
Northeast 28 14 19 -3.4 31 31 35
Midwest 43 42 42 0 45 54 69
South 163 176 173 0 173 202 265
West 64 68 75 45.5 74 87 113
Median Price (NSA, $) 222,000 226,800 221,900 4.7 221,242 214,500 230,408
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