Sales of new single-family houses in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23 million, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The seasonally adjusted annual rate projects a monthly total over a 12-month period.

This is 0.2 percent, plus or minus 9.2 percent, above the revised September rate of 1.22 million, and is 7.4 percent, plus or minus 11.8 percent, above the October 2003 estimate of 1.14 million.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2004 was $221,800 and the average sales price was $286,700. In September 2004, the median sales price of new homes sold was $197,700 and the average sales price was $255,100. In August, the median sales price of new homes sold was $208,900 and the average sales price was $267,000; in July, the median sales price was $207,400 and the average price was $274,200.

The share of homes priced at $300,000 and over increased from 28 percent in September 2004 to 33 percent in October 2004, according to the report, while the share of homes priced between $125,000 to $149,999 dropped from 15 percent in September 2004 to 10 percent in October 2004.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of October was 412,000. This represents a supply of 4.1 months at the current sales rate. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 404,000.

The number of new homes sold and for sale was up 30.3 percent in the West from October 2003 to October 2004, plus or minus 21.9 percent, according to the report. That compares with a gain of 8.5 percent in the Midwest (plus or minus 19.1 percent), a drop of 3.4 percent in the Northeast (plus or minus 42.7 percent), and a drop of 4.9 percent in the South (plus or minus 19.3 percent).

From September 2004 to October 2004, the Northeast saw a 19.7 percent (plus or minus 28.1 percent) rise in new houses sold and for sale, while the West saw a gain of 12.7 percent (plus or minus 19.7 percent), the Midwest had a drop of 3.6 percent (plus or minus 16.3 percent), and the South had a drop of 9.1 percent (plus or minus 14 percent).

It takes 6 months to establish a trend for new houses sold. Preliminary new home sales figures are subject to revision due to the survey methodology and definitions used. The survey is primarily based on a sample of houses selected from building permits. Since a sale is defined as a deposit taken or sales agreement signed, this can occur prior to a permit being issued. An estimate of these prior sales is included in the sales figure. On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimate of total sales is revised about 3 percent. Changes in sales price data reflect changes in the distribution of houses by region, size, etc., as well as changes in the prices of houses with identical characteristics.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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