Sales of new, single-family homes in May slipped 0.6% from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 342,000, 32.8% behind the same month last year and significantly below the consensus Wall Street estimate of 360,000, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
Commerce also said it had revised the April estimate downward from 352,000 previously reported to 344,000, lessening the month-to-month percentage decline.
There was brighter news in pricing. The median price was flat with April at $221,600, and the average price increased to $274,300 from 260,800. Both were still down from May, 2008, however, when the median was $229,300 and the average was $298,200.
Inventory, seasonally adjusted, stood at 292,000 homes at month's end, a 10.2-month supply, down from 297,000 in April, a 10.4-month supply, and 310,000 in March, an 11.2-month supply. Median months for sale, however, increased to 11.5 from 10.8 in April and 10.2 in March. Commerce estimated that 135,000 of those homes for sale were completed, 111,000 were under construction and 43,000 not yet started.
Regionally, the numbers were scattered. Increases of 28.6% in the Northeast, 18.6% in the Midwest and 1.3% in the West were more than offset by an 8.5% decline in the South. Compared to May, 2008, the Northeast was down 12.9%, Midwest down 32.0%, South down 35.9% and the West off 31.0%.
Unadjusted, 32,000 homes were sold, 3,000 in the Northeast, 5,000 in the Midwest, 17,000 in the South and 8,000 in the West.