New single-family home sales took a big step up to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 in July, the strongest pace in more than eight years, according to a joint release of New Residential Sales data by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday morning. The last time the annual rate exceeded 650,000 was in October 2007, when the estimate was 727,000. This month's result is a 12.4% rise from the upward-revised June rate of 582,000, and is 31.3% above July 2015, when the estimate was 498,000.

Home buyers continue to be most active in the South, as nearly 61%, or 398,000, of total sales during July were made in this region. Sales in the Northeast posted the largest gains month-over-month of any region (40%), followed by the South (18.1%), and Midwest (1.2%). New home sales in the West were relatively unchanged from June to July.

Year-over-year, three out of four regions made a significant leap, with sales jumping 39.6% in the South, 35.5% in the Midwest, and 25% in the Northeast, respectively. The West is the only market that saw an increase below 20%, but still reported a 11.4% gain in new single-family sales from July 2015 to July 2016.

This month's median sales price for new homes rose to $294,600, down -5.1% from the $310,500 in June, as the Spring sales season comes to an end. Based on the current sales pace, home supply at the end of July stood at about 4.3 months, lower than the 4.9 months reported a month earlier.

New homes priced between $200,000 and $299,999 were by far the most popular segment, as 34%, or 19,000, of total new homes sold in July fell in that price range, indicating that the entry-level home market is starting to pick up. Close behind were the 13,000 new home sales between $300,000 and $399,999, accounting for 23% of total sales. Homes priced in the higher tier above $400,000 kept a steady growth compared to previous years, while the lower-tier homes under $150,000 showed a significant drop from July 2015 to July 2016.

Read the full release from the Census Bureau here >>