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New-Home Sales Are Mixed Despite September Jump

Sales of new single-family U.S. homes rose 4.8 percent in September but sales in August
were revised down sharply, painting a mixed picture of the battered housing sector.

New home sales drop.
AP
New home sales drop.

New single-family home sales set an annual rate of 770,000 units in September, up from a downwardly revised rate of 735,000 in August, the Commerce Department said. Analysts had expected a 10,000 drop from the previously reported 780,000.

While sales were weak, the inventory of homes fell and the median sales price rose.

In September, the median sales price of a new home rose 2.5 percent to $238,000 from $232,100 in August, a month that saw the slowest sales pace in 11 years.

There were 523,000 new homes for sale at the end of the month, a 1.5 percent drop from August. It would take 8.3 months to clear that inventory at the current sales pace, down from
the 9 months supply reported in August.

Sales for the month were off 23.3 percent from a year ago. Across the regions, sales were mostly down although the West did see a 37.7 increase. In the Midwest, sales were off 19.5
percent and down 6.6 percent in the Northeast. Sales were up 0.5 percent in the South.

The report comes a day after a realty trade association said sales of previously owned homes fell 8 percent to a record low 5.04 million unit pace amid troubles in the subprime
mortgage market.