Sales and prices of new single-family homes in April trailed their year-ago levels by double digits, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate at which new one-family homes sold last month was 981,000, down approximately 10.6 percent from a year ago when the rate was 1.09 million units. This rate is based on the projection of a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

Despite the decline, April’s sales rate rose approximately 16.2 percent from March’s downwardly revised rate of 844,000, according to the report.

The median sales price of new single-family homes sold in April fell to $229,100, down from $257,000 a year earlier and off from $257,600 in March — declines that average 11 percent.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 538,000, which represents a supply of 6.5 months at the current sales rate. A supply greater than six months is generally indicative of a buyer’s market.

Statistics are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as nonsampling error, the agencies noted.

Changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show irregular movement and it can take six months to establish a trend for new houses sold. Preliminary new-home sales figures are subject to revision. 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.

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