The inventory of new homes for sale jumped dramatically in July, the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 393,000, which is the highest level for at least the past five years. This represents a supply of 4.2 months, which means that it would take about 4.2 months to exhaust the supply of houses at the current sales pace. That is the highest monthly supply level since February 2003, when the supply was estimated at 4.5 months.

The rate of new single-family home sales dropped an estimated 6.4 percent from June to July and 1.9 percent from July 2003 to July 2004, according to federal statistics. These comparisons have an error margin ranging from 9.7 percent to 10.7 percent. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new single-family home sales reached 1.13 million in July 2004, compared with 1.21 million in June 2004 and 1.16 million in July 2003. This seasonal annual rate projects a monthly sales rate over a 12-month period.

The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2004 was $207,400 and the average sales price was $274,200. In June 2004, the median sales price of new homes was $209,900. Median home prices peaked in April at $221,400.

The seasonally adjusted rate of new houses sold and for sale dropped 23.5 percent in the Northeast, 15.9 percent in the South, and 1.7 percent in the West from June 2004 to July 2004, the federal agencies reported, while increasing 21.5 percent in the Midwest. From July 2003 to July 2004, new houses sold and for sale decreased in all regions except the Midwest, which reported a 17.1 percent year-to-year gain.

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