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Rate of new home sales declines in October

Sales of new one-family homes fell in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The figure is 40.1 percent below the October 2007 rate of 723,000, and the lowest pace since 1991.

DOC also reported today that the median sales price of a new house in the month of October was $218,000. The average sales price was $272,300. Also, the supply of new homes fell to 381,000, down 8.0 percent.

The regionally numbers were generally negative, with two exceptions: Month-to-month sales increased 22.6 percent in the Northeast, and increased 6.0 percent in the Midwest. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales declined in double digits across the board – from 38.5 percent decline in the South to a 44.5 percent decline in the Midwest.

The report from the DOC came a day after the release of the Case-Shiller home price index published by Standard & Poor’s, which showed that home prices in 20 major U.S. cities dropped 1.8% in September compared to August. The index also showed a year-over-year decline in home prices, which fell a record 17.4% on the index.

At the National Association of Home Builders, the slow down in sales was expected.

"The drop in new home sales last month comes as no surprise," said NAHB Chairman Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W. Va. 

"Housing starts in October and NAHB's most recent Housing Market Index, which gauges builder sentiment about the market, were at record lows. And the extreme turmoil in the financial markets in October definitely undermined consumer confidence and served as a drag on demand for housing."

The NAHB appealed to Congress for a stimulus package that includes measures to spur home buying and stem foreclosures.