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Rate of new home sales declines in October

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sales of new one-family homes fell in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The figure is 40.1 percent below the October 2007 rate of 723,000, and the lowest pace since 1991.

DOC also reported today that the median sales price of a new house in the month of October was $218,000. The average sales price was $272,300. Also, the supply of new homes fell to 381,000, down 8.0 percent.

The regionally numbers were generally negative, with two exceptions: Month-to-month sales increased 22.6 percent in the Northeast, and increased 6.0 percent in the Midwest. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales declined in double digits across the board – from 38.5 percent decline in the South to a 44.5 percent decline in the Midwest.

The report from the DOC came a day after the release of the Case-Shiller home price index published by Standard & Poor’s, which showed that home prices in 20 major U.S. cities dropped 1.8% in September compared to August. The index also showed a year-over-year decline in home prices, which fell a record 17.4% on the index.

At the National Association of Home Builders, the slow down in sales was expected.

“The drop in new home sales last month comes as no surprise,” said NAHB Chairman Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W. Va. 

“Housing starts in October and NAHB’s most recent Housing Market Index, which gauges builder sentiment about the market, were at record lows. And the extreme turmoil in the financial markets in October definitely undermined consumer confidence and served as a drag on demand for housing.”

The NAHB appealed to Congress for a stimulus package that includes measures to spur home buying and stem foreclosures.

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Long-time E.C. Barton employee retires

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Harold Bouland, vp-retail purchasing and wholesale operations of E.C. Barton & Company, has retired from the company after 43 years.

E.C. Barton, a hardware store chain with 11 locations in Arkansas and nine in Missouri, is a member of the Do it Best co-op. Joe Corah, division manager of commodities for Do it Best, and Tom Nolen, a retail development specialist with the company, were on hand at Bouland’s retirement celebration to present him with plaques commemorating his long-term support of E.C. Barton’s relationship with the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based co-op.

Bouland began working at E.C. Barton after graduating from Arkansas State College (now Arkansas State University) in 1965. With a degree in accounting, Bouland initially managed the company’s books and handled sales. He was soon promoted to assistant manager, a position he held for 11 years, before being named a district manager, a position he held for 20 years. Bouland later served as vp-special projects. He will remain on the company’s board of directors.

“Harold Bouland has served E.C. Barton & Company with uncompromising honor and loyalty,” said Niel Crowson, president and CEO of the company. “We are grateful for his 43 years of service and the many contributions he has made to our success.”

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Cutbacks at Harbor Freight

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The discount tool retailer has reduced staff in several divisions, including real estate, according to press reports.

Harbor Freight, the Camarillo, Calif.-based tool retailer, has trimmed its workforce in reaction to current economic conditions, according to the Ventura County Star. The privately held company has eliminated approximately 20 positions over the past three months due to “performance, a mismatch of skills, and … changed processes or implementation of automated tools,” the newspaper reported.

Two employees in the real estate division, which locates new store sites,  were laid off because of a lack of business, according to the article.

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