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Home sales falloff accelerates

Months on market average still climbing

Washington - Sagging sales of new single-family houses in January dropped 11.2% from December, and were down 6.1% from the January 2009 level, the Commerce Department reported today.

The January 2010 drop-off, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 309,000 new houses, was the third consecutive monthly decline.  This figure set yet another all-time low rate; the statistical report was launched in January 1963.

A very minor bright spot was the regional report from the Midwest, where 49,000 new houses were sold or for sale, a slight uptick from December, when the rate was 48,000. All other regions reported month-to-month declines.

Compared to January 2009, there was also one regional winner: the West, where the rate of 74,000 new houses last month was an improvement over the rate of 65,000 new houses one year ago.

Commerce reported a nationwide median sales price of $203,500 and an average sales price of $234,500 for new houses sold in January.

The report also stated: “The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 234,000. This represents a supply of 9.1 months at the current sales rate.” By comparison, Commerce calculated a 12.4 months supply in January 2009, and an 8.0 months supply in December.

Also troubling: the preliminary report of median months for sale has steadily risen from 9.4 months in January 2009 to 14.2 months in January 2010, Commerce said. This rate has risen inexorably every month over the past year.

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