Sales of new single-family houses in December were up about 1.8 percent from the December 2004 rate, and up 2.9 percent from the revised November rate, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

Sales in December 2005 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.27 million. This rate is used to project a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonally fluctuations in sales activity.

The median sales price of new houses sold in December 2005 was $221,800, down 3.5 percent from December 2004; and the average sales price was $272,900, down 4.2 percent from December 2004, the agencies reported.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 516,00 – this represents a supply of 4.9 months at the current sales rate.

An estimated 1.28 million new homes were sold in 2005. This is 6.6 percent above the 2004 figure.

Regionally, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of homes sold during December 2005 dropped 18 percent in the Midwest compared to December 2004, remained flat in the Northeast, and increased 4 percent in the South and 12.9 percent in the West.

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, the agencies reported.

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 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, according to the report.

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.

***

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

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