The Commerce Department today reported that despite a slip in December, sales of new single-family homes topped one million units in 2003, establishing a new record for the third consecutive year.

Sales of new single-family houses in December slipped approximately 5.1 percent to 1.06 million units from November’s revised rate of 1.12 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The numbers, while amazing, should not be a surprise to most builders,” said Bobby Rayburn, president of the National Association of Home Builders and a home and apartment builder from Jackson, Miss. “The sales pace has been excellent throughout the last six months, primarily fueled by low mortgage rates and strong house price performance, and the market fundamentals are in place for this pace to continue into early 2004.”

December’s rate is 0.8 percent above the December 2002 estimate of 1.05 million units.

“The sales pace was strong throughout the fourth quarter, and while we anticipate a slight decline in 2004, it is predicated on a projected rise of mortgage rates as the year progresses, to 6.5 percent by year-end,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders. “However, interest rates are currently lower than had been expected, and the rates are not projected to move up in the near future. Consumer confidence in housing is still strong, and housing continues to be an important contributor to our nation’s economy.”

Three regions recorded record-high sales for 2003. The Midwest had 189,000 sales, the South posted 512,000 sales and the West registered 306,000 sales. Sales in the Northeast topped 79,000, not a new record, but up 21.5 percent from 2002. For the month, the sales pace across all regions was mixed. The Northeast and Midwest posted 12.2 percent and 8.7 percent gains over the November rate, respectively. The South and West showed 8.1 percent and 11.2 percent declines, respectively.

The median sales price of new houses sold in December was $197,600, while the average sales price was $261,100.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of houses for sale at the end of December was 374,000, which represents a supply of 4.3 months at the current sales rate.

For all of 2003, there were approximately 1.09 million new homes sold, an approximate 11.5 percent increase compared with 973,000 houses sold during 2002, establishing a new record.


Send a Letter to the Editor for publication.
Send a comment or news tip to our newsroom.
Please include the headline of the story.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription