August new-home sales hold steady

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  and the United States Census Bureau have released figures revealing the pace of new-home sales held virtually unchanged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 373,000 units in August.

This follows a substantial gain in July, which Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Florida, said was the strongest month of sales in more than two years.

David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, estimated the third quarter of 2012 to be “well ahead of the second quarter,” due to the steady pace at which new-home sales are increasing. However, Crowe warned about the low inventory of new homes for sale, saying it indicates a lack of access to the credit builders need to build new homes as demand increases.

Crowe also said the majority of the new homes are purchased by buyers with higher incomes who purchase homes in the $400,000-plus range, while first-time buyers are struggling to qualify for mortgages.

Most regions of the country increased new-home sales, with the Northeast, Midwest and West posting gains of 20 percent, 1.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. The South, the only region to see sales drop, posted a decline of 4.9 percent.

The inventory of new homes for sale held at a historic low of 141,000 units in August, which is a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace.