The rate of new single-family home sales increased about 4.9 percent from March to April but was down about 5.7 percent compared to April 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

Home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.2 million in April. The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

The median sales price of new houses sold in April 2006 was $238,500 and the average sales price was $298,300. In March, the average sales price was $232,000 and the median sales price was $291,200. And in April 2005, the average sales price was $236,300 and the median sales price was $289,100.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 565,000, which represents a supply of 5.8 months at the current sales rate, the agencies reported. Housing experts have said that a six-month supply of homes for sale represents a rough equilibrium between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market. In March there was an estimated six-month supply, and the supply was 4.3 months in April 2005.

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 noted.

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 agencies also 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. 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.

New residential sales data for May 2006 will be released at 10 a.m. EDT on Monday, June 26.

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