The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that sales of new one-family houses in July increased 2.4% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 515,000, 35.3% below July of 2007. The Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development, which produce the estimates jointly, also revised the June estimate downward from a -0.6% drop to a -2.1% rate of 503,000.

Inventory dropped 5.6% to a 10.1-month supply, down from 10.7 months in June but still well above historical norms. The median months on the market crept up to 8.5 from 8.3 in June.

The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2008 was $230,700, up marginally from $230,100 in June but considerably lower than the $246,200 posted in July 2007. The average sales price was $294,600, down from $296,500 in June and $307,100 last July.

Regionally, sales were up sharply in the Northeast, 38.9% from June and 4.2% from last July. Sales in the West were up 9.9% month-to-month but down 42.7% year-over-year. The South was off 2.5% from June to July and down 35.8% from last July. The Midwest posted the biggest month-to-month sales decrease, down 8.2%, with year-to-year sales off 36.2%.