August 15, 2011 | 3:40 pm CDT


WASHINGTON -- Sales of newly built, single-family homes were unchanged in August, holding at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 288,000 units and matching July's revised sales figures, according to data released by the U.S. Commerce Department today.

"Today's report is in keeping with recent builders surveys that indicated that most potential home buyers have put off buying due to uncertainty about the economy and job market," said Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. " However, many of our members remain frustrated because they can't get loans for viable projects and are turning customers away."

"The general housing market is clearly in a holding pattern," agreed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While historically low interest rates and affordable prices should attract potential home buyers to the market, the slow pace of economic recovery and worries about job security are keeping many of them on the fence. Unfortunately, in the regions where we are seeing increasing demand, builders are stymied by the inability to get loans to build homes."

Sales of new homes increased in the Northeast and West by 16.7 percent and 54.3 percent, respectively. The Midwest and South posted double-digit declines of 26.1 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively.

The latest figures indicated that builders are continuing to keep a tight rein on the inventory of new homes for sale. That inventory, at 207,000 units in August, was 1.0 percent lower than the month before. The pace of sales activity was essentially unchanged, with the month's supply of homes dropping to 8.6 from 8.7 in the previous month.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

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