As usual, fresh on the heels of the National Association of Realtors monthly report on the status of existing home sales, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have released their joint monthly report on the sales of new homes for the month of October 2006.

While existing homes showed a slight increase in sales of one-half percent since September, and the median price was up $1,000 to $121,000, new house sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,004,000 units, a 3.2 percent decline from revised September figures of 1,037,000 units and a whopping 25.4 percent below the October 2005 estimate of 1,346,000 units.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2006 was $248,500 and the average price was $309,700. The report did not give any comparison numbers either from September 2006 or October 2005 but according to our records the median price in September was $217,100 so it seems strange that the report did not make more of this apparent increase.

The report estimated that there were 558,000 new homes for sale nationwide at the end of October. This represents a supply of 7 months at the current sales rate. There was a 6.7 months supply at the end of September according to revised figures and 4.5 months inventory at the end of October 2005.

Month to month the Northeast fared the worst of all the regions. Sales were off 39 percent since September (although the confidence interval was over 27 percent.) The Midwest was down 5.6 percent and the South 1.7 percent. The West saw an increase in sales of 3.2 percent. On a year-over-year comparison, sales were down 52.6 percent in the Northeast, 26.5 percent in the Midwest, 15.4 percent in the South, and 36.5 percent in the West.

New home sales are reported when the builder and the buyer sign a contract so sales are subject to cancellation and renegotiation.