New home sales show further weakness

New single-family home sales fell further in December, down 4.7 percent from November, according to figures released today by the United States Commerce Department. December’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of 604,000 units was a full 40.7 percent below the same period a year ago.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) called the lower results further evidence of a need for a federal “economic stimulus package to boost the ailing economy.”

“The continuing deterioration in the housing market, as reflected in today’s numbers, underscores the need to do more to stabilize housing and the economy,” said Jerry Howard, executive vp and CEO of the NAHB.

“[Federal] policymakers are meeting this week, and they can do their part to help by continuing to cut interest rates and inject liquidity into the financial markets,” added NAHB chief economist Dave Seiders.

Regionally, new home sales fell 6.5 percent in the South, 6 percent in the West and 1.2 percent in the Midwest month-over-month. The Northeast posted a 6 percent gain. All regions were down substantially on a year-over-year basis, ranging from a 27.4 percent fall-off in the Northeast to a 55.8 percent drop in the Midwest.

The inventory of new homes for sale was down 2.3 percent to 495,000 units in December, as builders continued to gradually work down their inventory. The equivalent months’ supply at the December sales pace edged up to 9.6 months from 9.4 months in November.