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NE Plunge Drives New US Home Sales to 9-Month Low

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With the sale of new homes in the Northeast sinking by more than half on a month-over- month basis, national sales dipped to a nine-month low. Sales in the Midwest and West, however, were stronger, while the U.S. inventory reached a nine-year high.

Home builders sold 53,000 new U.S. housing units during July. That was the fewest new home sales since January, when the total was an upwardly revised 48,000 units.

From Jan. 1, 2018, through the end of July, the number of newly constructed single-family homes that were sold amounted to 401,000 housing units.

The data was jointly reported Thursday by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the annual rate of new home sales last month was 627,000 — the weakest pace since October 2017’s downwardly revised 618,000 rate.

Despite the weakness, National Association of Home Builders Senior Economist Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington remains optimistic.

“We continue to see solid housing demand due to economic strengthening and positive demographic tailwinds,” Nanayakkara-Skillington said in a written statement. “Builders need to manage rising construction costs to keep their homes competitively priced for the newcomers to the housing market.”

The rate was an upwardly revised 638,000 in June 2018. Sales have picked up, though, from a downwardly revised 556,000 in July 2017.

Driving down the national rate was the Northeast, where the seasonally adjusted annual rate of 21,000 plunged from June by 52 percent — more than any other region. The South fell 3 percent to a 355,000 annual rate.

But in the Midwest, the annual rate was up a 10th from a month earlier to 78,000, while the West had an 11 percent surge to 173,000.

With a seasonally adjusted 309,000 U.S. housing units for sale at the end of July 2018, it was the most since March 2009’s 311,000. The latest inventory worked out to a 5.9 month supply.

Last month’s median sales price was 328,700, and the average price was $394,300.

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