Sales of new homes improved slightly in July with a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 870,000, up 2.8 percent above the revised June sales figures. The June number had been particularly dismal at an annualized 834,000 units, well below the 895,000 units analysts had been expecting. The final figure for June, while still well below the expected number, was 846,000, 12,000 above what had been initially reported.

The July figures come from the monthly joint report on the sales of newly constructed, never occupied homes issued by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In spite of the small up tick registered in July, sales of new homes were still running 10.2 percent below the estimates for July one year ago when the annualized figure was 969,000.

Inventory figures also improved marginally over the information released for June. There are currently 533,000 new homes for sale nationwide compared to 538,000 last month. At the current rate of sales, that inventory will take 7.5 months to be absorbed. In June the supply of homes was estimated at 7.7 months. One year ago there were 573,000 new homes on the market, the highest number in the current 12 month period. That number represented a 7.4 month supply.

Houses are now spending 6.1 months on the market, the longest median time in the last 12 months. This time period is, however, calculated from the date of completion so does not include the large numbers of homes that sell during or prior to construction.

The median price of homes sold in July was $239,500, $9,500 higher than the June median. One year ago the median price was $238,100. The July average price was $300,800 compared with $311,300 one year ago.