Sales of newly built homes picked up in October, but a downward revision to September shows numbers in that segment of the housing market remain volatile.
The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that sales of new single-family houses were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000 in October, up 0.7 percent from September's revised rate of 455,000 and 1.8 percent over last year's pace of 450,000 sales.
Economists had expected October sales would come in at a rate of 470,000. An estimate released by the Mortgage Bankers Association earlier this month called for a sales rate of 461,000 units, based on mortgage applications for new home purchases.
September's sales pace was adjusted from an originally reported 467,000 units, a slight bump over August's revised rate.
It's been a year of ups and downs for the new single-family home market compared to the relatively stable numbers coming out for existing-home sales. In May, the government put new sales at a rate of 504,000, only to cut it down to 442,000 the next month. A similar situation occurred in August, which saw sales cut down to a rate of 466,000 in the following report.
October sales were aided in part by a 1.0 percent increase in the number of homes for sale to 212,000. At the current sales pace, the nation's months' supply of homes stands at 5.6, up from 5.5 in September.
Sales of new homes were up month-over-month in two of the country's four regions. In the Northeast, transactions were estimated at a yearly rate of 30,000, while sales in the Midwest were estimated at 66,000. Both figures were the highest for each region since May.
In the typically more active South and West regions, sales were down to 252,000 and 110,000, respectively.
Compared to October 2013, new home sales were down in all regions except the West, which saw a 27.9 percent pickup from 86,000 a year ago.
The median sales price of new homes sold last month was $305,000, up substantially from September's $261,700. The average price was $401,100, up from $314,200.