Sales of new single-family homes in August remained flat with July, the second-worst month on record, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
New-home sales for the month came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 288,000, the same as an upwardly revised July and barely ahead of the record low rate of 282,000 set in May, 2010 in records going back to January, 1963. The July estimate was raised from 276,000, which would have been a record low. The rate was 28.9% below August, 2009.
The median sales price of new houses sold in August was down 0.5% from July to $204,700 and down 1.1% from August, 2009. The average sales price was up 1.8% from July to $248,800 but down 3.5% from the same month last year.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of August was 206,000, a 1.4% sequential drop, to an 8.6-month supply.
Not seasonally adjusted, a total of 25,000 homes were sold nationwide in August, down from 27,000 in July.
Regionally, sales in the Northeast were up 16.7% to an annual pace of 35,000, 5.4% below last August. The Midwest was off 26.1% to a pace of 34,000, 38.2% behind August, 2009. The South was down 10.8% to a pace of 148,000, 28.2% off last year's pace. The West was up 54.3% to a pace of 71,000, 33.6% below last year's August annual rate.
Year-to-date through August, not seasonally adjusted, 234,000 new homes were sold, 10.4% behind 2009. The Northeast was up 12.1% at 23,000, the Midwest down 7.9% at 33,000, the South down 13% at 124,000 and the west down 13.1% at 54,000.
Stephen East at Ticonderoga Securities saw some relatively positive news in the data. In a research note, he wrote, "While not providing a lot to get excited about, given this is the third lowest sales pace recorded, we find no reason to get alarmed either. Sometimes, absence of bad is good. We think that is the case today. The data next month and in Oct. are more critical, as they will show if we have gotten any positive seasonal bump."