New home sales match two-year high

New home sales in July climb 3.6 percent, matching May's total of new home sales. The supply of new homes for sale falls to a 49-year low.

Paul Sakuma/AP
In this Tuesday photo, a new home is under construction in Palo Alto, Calif. New home sales in the United States rose 3.6 percent in July to match a two-year high reached in May, the latest sign of a steady recovery in the housing market.

In another sign of improvement in the housing market, new home sales increased 3.6 percent in July from the previous month, the government reported Thursday.

Sales of new residential homes rose to a seasonally adjusted level of 372,000 units in July, matching a more than two-year high for total sales, the Census Bureau said.

The same number of new homes were sold in May before sales dipped to 359,000 in June. The last time more new homes were sold in the U.S. was in April 2010, when there were 422,000 sold, according to government data.

Economists had expected a smaller increase in July, to about 365,000 sales. But a sharp rise in the Northeast offset slight declines in the South and West to boost the numbers.

July sales were up 25.3 percent nationwide from a year earlier. And although sales aren’t close to the levels normally associated with an economic recovery, the trend is improving.

“Levels of housing activity remain extremely depressed relative to previous peaks, but growth rates across most of the housing data are clearly moving in the right direction,” Jill Brown, vice president of economics for Credit Suisse, said in a note.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously occupied homes were up 2.3 percent in July after also dipping in June.

But new home construction has yet to pick up. The number of new houses for sale at the end of July fell slightly to 142,000 — a 4.6-month supply — compared to 143,000 at the end of June.

The July figure marked the lowest level of new houses for sale since the Census Bureau began tracking the data in 1963.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.