The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Monday morning that sales of new homes in August slipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 609,000, a decrease of 7.6% below the revised July rate of 659,000 and an increase of 20.6% compared with the August 2015 rate of 505,000. The consensus estimate from a survey of economists expected a rate of around 598,000. The April rate was revised downward by 48,000.
At the peak in 2005, new home sales posted a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 1.4 million.
The Census Bureau also reported that the median sales price for new homes sold in August fell by $10,600 from $294,600 in July to $284,000, and the average sales price fell by $2,200 to $353,600. At the end of August the number of new homes for sale totaled 235,000 and represented a supply of 4.6 months at the current sales rate.
In August, 55% of the estimated 50,000 monthly sales were sales for homes priced at less than $300,000. The percentage is three points higher than the July rate. Sales of homes priced between $300,000 and $399,999 fell by three points to 20% of all sales. Sales of homes in the range of $400,000 to $499,999 rose fell from 12% of sales to 10%, and sales rose from 9% to 10% for homes sold in a range of $500,000 to $749,999. Home sales for properties priced above $750,000 accounted for 5% of all new home sales in August , up from 4% in July.
The increase in sales of lower-priced homes is the primary factor in the sharp drop in median and average prices in August. That may be good news because lower-priced homes are typically the choice of first-time buyers.