New single-family home sales were up about 9 percent from October 2004 to October 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today, while the average sales price of a new single-family home dropped about 1 percent.

Sales of new single-family houses in October 2005 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,424,000, according to the announcement. This is about 13 percent above the revised September rate of 1,260,000 and is about 9 percent above the October 2004 estimate of 1,306,000. The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, accounting for seasonal fluctuations in statistics.

The second-highest seasonally adjusted sales total this year was 1,371,000 in July 2005.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2005 was $231,300 and the average sales price was $286,500. In October 2004, the median sales price was $229,200 and the average sales price was $289,600. In September 2005, the median sales price of a single-family home was $227,700 and the average sales price was $293,300.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of October was 496,000. This represents a supply of 4.3 months at the current sales rate. In October 2004, the months’ supply was 3.8.

Regionally, the seasonally adjusted rate of new houses sold and for sale dropped about 19.8 percent in the Midwest, 16.5 percent in the Northeast, and increased about 27.5 percent in the South and 8.8 percent in the West from October 2004 to October 2005.

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

Changes in seasonally adjusted statistics can show irregular movement. It takes six months to establish a trend for new houses sold, according to the announcement. 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.

HUD and Census also announced that reporting errors were discovered that affected median and average sales prices and the distribution of new homes sold by sales price in past reports. “These errors have been corrected and are reflected in revised data for June through September 2005,” according to the announcement.

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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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