U.S. new home sales heading for worst year ever

U.S. new single-family home sales in November are pointing toward a record low in sales for the year.

315,000 forecast below 2010 total

Americans bought about 315,000 new homes in November. This house is in Winter Garden, Fla. (John Raoux/Associated Press)

U.S. new single-family home sales in November are pointing toward a record low in sales for the year.

Sales of new single-family homes in  November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000, according to estimates released Friday by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

If the trend holds through December, the 2011 total will be below the 323,000 homes sold in 2010, the lowest number on record dating back to 1963.

Economists estimate that 700,000 new homes — more than double the estimated 2011 total — need to be sold to sustain a healthy market.   

The November sales figure is 1.6 per cent above the revised October rate of 310,000 and is 9.8 per cent above the November 2010 estimate of 287,000, the government said.

Sales of new homes are only 10 per cent of the housing market, but they have a big economic impact because each one creates roughly three jobs for a year, the U.S. National Association of Home Builders estimates.

The median sales price of new houses in November was $214,100; the average price was $242,900. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of November was 158,000. This represents a supply of 6.0 months at the current sales rate.