Sales of new single-family homes posted a small gain in August, increasing 1.5% to 740,000 at a seasonally adjusted annual rate from a 729,000 pace in July. Despite the gain, sales are down 24.3% from the year-ago level and are 25.5% below the 993,000 pace in January (see top of first chart). The declining trend in new home sales has been matched by permits for future construction (see top of first chart).
Sales of new single-family homes were up in three of the four regions of the country in August. Sales in the South, the largest by volume, rose 6.0% while sales in the West gained 1.4%, and sales in the Northeast gained 26.1%. However, sales in the Midwest were off 31.1% for the month. From a year ago, sales were down between 16 and 47% in the four regions.