Sales of new homes were up in July, gaining 3.6% on a monthly basis to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 372,000, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce. And given that the previous nine monthly estimates have later been revised up, there is likely better news to come.

However, the report’s data failed to pass the statistical significance test both on the national and regional levels, so in analyzing the data, Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, instead points to the data’s three-month moving average, which "shows sales inching up nationally and in all four regions. Levels remain extremely low, but momentum is picking up."

Inventory returned to its record low, first set last May, with only a 4.6-month supply. Spec building was down to 33,000 units, a 1,000-unit decline sequentially, which Stephen East, senior managing director of ISI Homebuilding Research, attributes to "constrained labor in certain markets with builders focused on delivering backlog."

See the Commerce Department’s full report on July’s new-home sales data.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.