Sales of new, single-family houses were the lowest on record for the month of June, according to figures in a report by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 330,000, the lowest rate for that month since the Census Bureau began keeping such records in January 1963. The previous June low was in 1982, when the seasonally adjusted sales rate was 372,000.

The June sales rate was 16.7 percent lower than in June 2009, which had an estimated annual rate of 396,000 sales.

The rate did represent a 23.6 percent month-to-month rise over May sales, which had hit a record low. That record low was downwardly revised this month to an annual rate of 267,000, from the 300,000 previously estimated.

Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), called the month-to-month rise "an encouraging sign" following May’s slowdown in sales after the federal homebuyer tax credits’ expiration.

Under the program, buyers had until April 30 to have a home under contract. The bureau counts new-home sales when a contract is signed — this differs from industry methodology for existing-home sales, which the National Association of Realtors counts when the transaction is closed.

"It’s worth noting that some of the new-home sales in June were due to move-up buyers who were able to sell their previous home to a tax-credit-eligible buyer while that program was active," said David Crowe, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a statement.

"Also, while sales activity is still far from robust, it has picked up some momentum. We anticipate that this momentum will continue along with a gradually improving economy, although other factors such as a critical lack of production financing remain a drag on housing’s recovery."

New homes sold for a median price of $213,400 and an average price of $242,900 in June, compared to $200,900 and $263,400, respectively, in May.

New houses for sale at the end of June totaled an estimated seasonally adjusted 210,000 — a supply of 7.6 months at the current sales pace. That raw inventory figure is a 25 percent decrease from June 2009; supply fell 10.6 percent.

Regionally, only the Northeast saw a year-over-year increase in new-home sales, up 17.1 percent. The region made up 12.4 percent of total new-home sales in June.

The West saw the sharpest year-over-year decline, at -45.7 percent. The region made up 17.3 percent of sales in June. Next came the Midwest with a 20.3 percent drop in sales. The region accounted for 14.2 percent of sales last month.

The South saw the smallest drop in sales, down 6.1 percent. The region accounted for 56.1 percent of sales in June.

Month-to-month, new home sales rose in every region except the West. They rose 46.4 percent in the Northeast, 33.1 percent in the South and 20.5 percent in the Midwest. In the West, sales fell 6.6 percent.

In a separate report, the California Building Industry Association said June housing starts in the state had posted the highest monthly total since December 2008.

State and local governments issued 4,238 total housing units in June, up 19 percent year-over-year and up 34 percent month-to-month.

Much of those gains were due to permits for multifamily units, which totaled 1,610 — a 140 percent jump from a year ago and a 35 percent increase from May, the report said. There were 2,628 permits issued for single-family homes, a 9 percent decrease from June 2009, and a 33 percent increase from May.

"… (W)e’re still hovering around the record-low production levels of the past two years, and the industry is still facing an uphill battle in the wake of a stabilizing housing market and high unemployment," said Liz Snow, the president and CEO of the CBIA, in a statement.

"We’re still expecting a modest improvement over last year and hope that the state tax credits for homebuyers will continue to help chip away at the inventory of unsold homes so that job-generating new-home construction can get back to healthy levels in the near future."

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