January 26, 2012 (Chris Moore)

Sales of new single-family homes fell in December making 2011 the worst year for new homes sales dating back to 1963 according to the latest housing data released by the Census Bureau.

Monthly sales of new homes declined 2.2 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted rate of 307,000, down from a revised rate of 314,000 in November. The seasonally adjusted rate in November was revised downward from 315,000.

Sales of new single-family homes had increased in the three months prior to December, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the dismal sales before that. Sales had fallen to an all-time low average of 281,000 homes per year in February and were followed by gains in March and April, but then declined throughout the summer months until September.

A total of 302,000 new homes were sold last year, 21,000 less than the 323,000 homes sold in 2010, which had previously been the worst year for new home sales.

The rate of sales in December was 7.3 percent lower than the estimated sales rate of 331,000 units in December of 2010.

The median sales price of the new homes sold in December was $210,300, which was down from a revised $215,700 in November. The average sales price for a new home in December was $266,000, up from a revised $250,300 in November.

Seventy-one percent of the new single-family homes sold in December were under $300,000, down from 77 percent in November.

In December of last year, the median sales price of a new home was 14.7 percent higher at $241,200, while the average sales price was 9.7 percent higher at $291,700.

Two of the four regions posted increases in seasonally adjusted monthly sales with the Northeast and the West posting gains of 46.7 and 9.0 percent, respectively, while the Midwest and the South posted declines of 3.7 and 10.1 percent, respectively.

Compared to a year ago, new home sales in the West and the South declined 29.1 and 4.8 percent, respectively, while in the Northeast, sales remained unchanged. The Midwest was the only region to see a year over-year gain of 36.8 percent.

Inventory of new single-family homes remained relatively balanced by historic standards with a seasonally adjusted 157,000 homes available for sale, which translates into a 6.1 months supply of inventory.

Tags: Census Bureau, new home sales, single-family homes, median sales price, average sales price

Census Bureau