Single-family home sales dropped 3.6% from August to September to an annual rate of 402,000, 7.8% below September, 2008, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The rate missed economists estimates of 440,000 by more than 10% and was the first drop in five months. The miss sent builder stocks down sharply across the board.

The median price, however, rose 2.5% from August to $204,800; the average sales price jumped nearly 10.2% to $282,600. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new single-family home inventory was 251,000, down marginally from 261,000 in August, still a 7.5-month supply. Not seasonally adjusted, months supply rose from 7 in August to 8.1 in September.

Regionally, sales were flat with August in the Northeast, up 34.0% in the Midwest, down 10.0% in the South and down 10.6% in the West. Year over year, the Northeast was up 68%, the Midwest up 12.7%, the South down 23.6% and the West down 1%.

The bulk of the homes sold in September--more than 66%--were priced below $299,000. Median months-for-sale remained flat with August at 13, up from 9.1 in September, 2008.