The bad news continued to mount Wednesday for the nation's
housing sector with the release of July's new-home sales figure.
Sales of new homes slumped 12.4 percent between June and July, a
government report shows. The annualized new-home sales pace is just
276,000 - the lowest level ever recorded.
The Commerce Department's release comes on the heels of an equally
lackluster existing-home sales report. The National Association of
Realtors, an industry group, reported Tuesday that sales of
existing homes fell 27.2 percent between June and July.
Single-family home sales - which form the bulk of the home-sales
figure - are at levels not seen since 1995.
Consumers' tepid interest in new-home purchases may serve to
depress homebuilder confidence even further. Builder sentiment is
already at low levels: The National Association of Home Builders,
another industry group, reported two weeks ago that its builder
confidence index is at its lowest point since March 2009.
It's unclear when home sales will pick up. What is clear, Wells
Fargo economist Mark Vitner said Wednesday to the Washington Post,
is that "consumers are holding back on committing to major
By Benjamin Foster