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Economy in Brief

U.S. New Home Sales Increase But Average Price Lowest Since 2003
by Tom Moeller December 23, 2011

Total new home sales rose 1.6% last month to 315,000 (AR). The rise followed an unrevised 1.3% October gain but September's increase was raised sharply to 5.5%. Sales roughly matched Consensus expectations for 312,000. Sales continue to move sideways since the removal of the home-buyers tax credit. Price weakness again may have prompted last months' sales increase. The median price of a new single family home fell 3.8% m/m to $214,100 (-2.5% y/y). Earlier months' figures were revised higher but the latest is a thirteen month low. The average home price dropped 4.1% m/m to $242,900 (-13.8% y/y), the lowest since 2003.

As recently has been the case, sales performance varied by region of the country. Sales in the Midwest rose 7.5% (62.9% y/y) while sales in the South rose 12.9%, up 6.7% y/y. Sales in the Northeast fell by one-quarter (-30.0% y/y) while in the West sales declined 16.9% (+1.5% y/y).

The inventory of unsold homes reached a new series low (-19.4% y/y) and it reached a new cycle-low of 6.0 months of sales. Low inventories of unsold homes are fairly common across the country. The length of time to sell a new home remained a median 7.4 months versus 11.4 months during all of last year.

The data in this report are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure from Action Economics is available in the AS1REPNA database.

U.S. New Home Sales Nov Oct Sep Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total (SAAR, 000s) 315 310 306 9.8 321 374 482
  Northeast 14 19 20 -30.0 31 31 35
  Midwest 57 53 46 62.9 45 54 69
  South 175 155 175 6.7 173 202 265
  West 69 83 65 1.5 74 87 113
Median Price (NSA, $) 214,100 222,600 215,100 -2.5 221,242 214,500 230,408
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