Healthy number for new-home sales

The Census Bureau's delayed report on new housing sales was released yesterday, and it was worth the wait.

Sales of new single-family houses in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000. That was better than analyst forecasts of 425,000 and up 25.4% from the September rate of 354,000. 

Compared with October 2012, yesterday's data shows new home sales up 21.6%. 

The estimates were released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2013 was $245,800; the average sales price was $321,700. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of October was 183,000. This represents a supply of 4.9 months at the current sales rate.

The reports for September and October were delayed by the recent partial government shutdown. Housing starts for September and October continue to be delayed, and are expected to be released later this month. 

October's gain more than made up for September's 6.6% decline. 

Also in October, all four regions of the country showed new-home-sales strength. New-home sales in the Midwest increased 34.0%, the South increased 28.2%, the Northeast rose 19.2%, and the West rose 15.2%.

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