New-home sales jumped substantially higher from July 2004 to July 2005, but prices are down, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

Sales of new single-family houses in July 2005 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.41 million, which is about 6.5 percent above the June rate and 27.7 percent above the July 2004 estimate, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate is based on a monthly sales total that is projected over a 12-month period, and the rate is adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in sales.

The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2005 was $203,800, which is about 7.7 percent below the median price in June and 4.2 percent below the July 2004 median price. The average sales price was $275,000, up about 1 percent since June but down 1.5 percent since July 2004.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 460,000. This represents a supply of four months at the current sales rate.

Statistics are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as non-sampling error including bias and variance from response, non-reporting, and under-coverage, according to the announcement.

Changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show irregular movement. It takes six 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 Census Bureau reported. 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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