Sales of new homes had their second-worst month on record in August, signaling that the housing market will remain a drag on the economy.
Last month's new home sales were unchanged from a month earlier at a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 288,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. Sales were down by 29 percent from the same month a year earlier.
Normally the building industry powers economic recoveries. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
But housing has been at the center of this downturn and it shows no signs of recovering quickly.
The only time new home sales were slower was in May, when the sales pace was 282,000. That's the worst pace on records dating back to 1963. July's results had been the worst on record, but were adjusted upward.
High unemployment, tight credit and uncertainty about home prices have kept people from buying homes. Government tax credits boosted the market earlier in the year, but those expired in April.
The median sales price in August was $204,700. That was down 1.2 percent from a year earlier and the lowest since December 2003.
Friday, September 24, 2010
New home sales: Worst August on record
New homes in August sold at the second-slowest monthly pace since 1963. Only May of this year was lower. No August on record was lower than August 2010. Fewer homes sold in August than during any month of the 2007-2009 recession. Historically, home building has been an essential part of economic recoveries.