The Commerce Department this morning (Oct. 25) reported a 4.8% increase in its seasonally adjusted numbers for new single-family home sales in September, but the number of homes actually sold fell from 63,000 in August to 60,000 last month.

The seasonally adjusted numbers, issued jointly by the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development, came in at an annual rate of 770,000, up from 735,000 in August. Still, that was 23.3% behind the pace set in September of last year.

The median price of new houses in September increased to $238,000 from August's $225,700, an increase of 5.4%, but the average sales price was $288,000 in September, down marginally from $292,000 in August. The number of new homes on the market was 523,000, down 7.8% from August's upwardly revised 531,000, representing an 8.3-month supply.

Regionally, sales in September on a month to month basis were down 6.6% in the Northeast; down 19.5% in the Midwest; up 0.5% in the South and up 37.7% in the West. On a year-over-year basis, sales were down across the board, with the Northeast falling 8.1%, the Midwest down 28.3% , the South down 28.9% and the West off 12.2%.

Actual homes sold (not seasonally adjusted) totaled 5,000 in the Northeast, 7,000 in the Midwest, 30,000 in the South and 17,000 in the West.

In a research note to investors, Michael Rehaut of J.P. Morgan Securities said he saw some positives in the numbers but still maintains his cautious stance on the home building industry. "While the modest decline in absolute inventory is a positive, down 1.5% sequentially and 9% from its July 2006 peak, we remain more concerned with highly elevated existing home inventory levels, which we note are 8x the size of the new home market, and we believe continue to be a key overhang on the overall housing market," he wrote.