US New Home Sales Fall Unexpectedly in August

New US home sales declined by 3.4% month-on-month in August to reach an annualised pace of 560,000, according to the Department of Commerce, leaving them 1.2% below the year-ago level.

The Commerce Department also said it corrected price data for new-home sales going back almost three years, covering October 2014 through January 2017, to include previously omitted response data.

Sales could worsen in coming months as parts of Texas and Florida - both hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma - find that new construction gets delayed as the focus turns to rebuilding properties that were flooded or damaged by the fierce winds and rainstorms. Home values have climbed at a much faster pace than incomes, meaning that many buyers had to strain their budgets to purchase a house.

The Census Bureau also reported that the median sales price for new homes sold in August fell by $12,200 from $312,700 in July to $300,500, and the average sales price fell by $3,100 to $368,100.

Other recent housing and construction readings have offered a mixed picture of a market with too few single-family homes and too many apartments in some areas. New homes at these relatively affordable prices were 14 percent of sales in August, down from 17 percent in 2016 and 19 percent in 2015.

New-home sales in August fell in the Northeast, South and West, while staying unchanged in the Midwest.

The sales decline over the past two months was so significant that the months' supply of new houses on the market ballooned to 6.1 months.

More broadly, new-home sales were up 7.5% in the first eight months of 2017 compared with a year earlier. Overall housing starts slipped 0.8% in August from the month prior, driven by continued steep declines in multifamily building.

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