Overstating weakness, July's headline for new home sales fell to a far lower-than-expected annualized rate of 571,000. This is offset, however, by upward revisions totaling 33,000 in the two prior months which now stand at 630,000 and 618,000. This series, where sample sizes are low, is often volatile month-to-month with the 3-month average, still over 600,000 and just off expansion highs, telling the more reliable story.
The best news in July's report is an increase in supply, up 4,000 to 276,000 new homes on the market. Relative to sales, supply moves from 5.2 months to 5.8 months which is nearly at the 6 month mark which is widely considered to be balanced for new homes.
Prices are showing increasing traction, up 0.7 percent in the month to a median $313,700. This is up 6.3 percent year-on-year which is roughly in line with prices of existing homes.
The strength in pricing is good news for residential investment but not for first-time buyers who are being priced out of the new home market. The downdraft in July's data aside, new homes are probably still a positive for the housing sector which has been trending higher in fits and starts all year. Watch tomorrow for existing home sales where strength is the expectation.
New home sales entered the Spring on the downturn before popping higher to a 600,000 plus annualized rate in both May and June. Prices came down in June while supply improved which could be positives for July sales. Yet forecasters are calling for no change in July at 610,000.