In the lastest evidence yet of the extent of the housing slowdown, new home sales during August registered 21.2 percent below the pace set just one year ago, the Commerce Depermant estimated Thursday. New home sales were estimated at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 795,000, off 8.3 percent from July's estimated sales pace -- the slowest sales month recorded since June 2000. Click here for the sales report. Calculated Risk -- always worth a read -- notes that the August 2007 numbers would represent the slowest August for new home sales since 1995. The median sales price of new houses sold in August 2007 was $225,700, the Commerce Department reported, while the average sales price was $292,000 -- both significant drops versus month- and year-ago comparisons. Neither number, however, is seen by most economists as particularly useful given that sales price figures in this report do not account for incentives and are sensitive to changes in geographic mix. From MarketWatch, who noted that the new sales number was lower than economists had expected:
"This is just hideous," wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics. "This is more evidence that it's going to be a long and -- for a lot of people -- a painful process," said Mike Schenk, economist for the Credit Union National Association. "The soft housing market will be with us for a long time, at least 18 months."
(Just because I like to be complete on new home sales analysis: The annual percentage comparison was greater than the 90 percent confidence interval, while the monthly comparison registered within the error interval -- meaning that sales pace has clearly slowed versus last year, while there is only directional evidence that the current housing estimate actually shows a decrease in August versus July of 2007.)