New single-family home sales fell by almost 2% in July, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Development. The decrease was led by a sharp drop in sales in the Northeast, while sales grew in the West.
[Related: Construction jobless rate improves in July]
Although new home sales nationwide fell by an estimated 1.7% over June, they’re up nearly 13% since last July, the data show.
Home sales fell over 52% in the Northeast. In the West, sales were up nearly 11% in July, and increased 18.5% from the year-ago period.
Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, senior economist for the National Association of Home Builders, noted that July’s estimate is the lowest pace for home sales since August 2017 and warned that builders must maintain control of project costs.
“While affordability conditions remain positive and the labor market sees low unemployment, prospective home buyers face increased uncertainties as interest rates trend higher and trade war concerns grow,” she wrote in a blog post.
The median price of new homes was $328,700 in July, according to the Census Bureau. The average sales price was $394,300.
Nearly a third of homes sold in July were in the $300,000 to $399,999 range, up from 26% a year ago and a 10-point increase over June. Homes in the $200,000 to $299,999 range account for 28% of home sold last month.
The number of building permits authorized in July topped 113,000, according to the Census Bureau, over two-thirds of which were for single-unit homes.
In the Mountain region, Arizona led permits issued, with over 4,500 permits issued. Colorado followed close behind with over 3,280.
Residential starts increased 2% to $326.5 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Single-family starts increased 3%, with a 5% increase in the West, but Dodge noted that “this project type continues to hover around the level of activity established at the end of 2017.”
Multifamily starts fell slightly, dropping 1% in July after an 8% increase in June.
[Related: New single-family home sales dip in June]