Wednesday, October 29, 2008

U.S. new home sales up, prices down

U.S. new home sales up, prices downA construction worker on site in Springfield, Ill., in September. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)

Sales of new single-family homes in the United States jumped 2.7 per cent in September from August, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday.

But the median price fell to $218,400 US, the lowest level in four years.

The Commerce report said that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, there were 464,000 homes sold in September, 33 per cent fewer than 694,000 sold in September 2007.

The increase was a surprise because economists had expected a decline from the August level.

Bank of Montreal economist Sal Guatieri said the figure was "modestly uplifting," but warned that "there is little reason to cheer," as it followed a steep drop in August and could fall again when the October numbers are released.

U.S. existing home sales also rose in September, by 5.5 per cent, the U.S. National Association of Realtors said Friday.

Buyers may have been taking advantage of lower prices.

The September gain was driven by an increase of almost 23 per cent in the U.S. West, to 108,000 units, up from 88,000 in August. But that is still far below the 174,00 houses sold in the West in September 2007.

With files from the Associated Press

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