Sales of new one-family houses in December 2004 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,098,000, approximately 2 percent below the estimate for December 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today. The seasonally adjusted annual rate projects a monthly total over a 12-month period.

The December rate is approximately 0.1 percent above the revised November rate of 1,097,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in December 2004 was $222,000; the average sales price was $276,600. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 432,000. This represents a supply of 4.8 months at the current sales rate.

In 2004, there were 1,183,000 houses sold compared with 1,086,000 houses sold during 2003, establishing a new record.

This is an increase of approximately 8.9 percent.

The number of homes sold and for sale dropped approximately 23.9 percent in the Northeast from December 2003 to December 2004, and dropped approximately 9 percent in the South and approximately 3 percent in the West during the same period. Meanwhile, the number of homes sold and for sale jumped approximately 30.3 percent in the Midwest from December 2003 to December 2004.

Midwest home sales were up approximately 55.5 percent from November 2004 to December 2004, which was the largest regional spike reported.

Preliminary new home sales figures are subject to revision due to the survey methodology and definitions used, according to the announcement. 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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