New U.S. home sales surged 9.6 percent in July, rising for the fourth straight month
and beating expectations as the housing market shows continuing signs of rebounding from its historic downturn.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 from an upwardly revised June rate of 395,000. Sales are now up 32 percent from the bottom in January, but off 69 percent from the frenzied peak four years ago.

Last month's sales pace was the strongest since September and exceeded the forecasts of economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who expected a pace of 390,000 units. The last time sales rose so dramatically was in February 2005.

The median sales price of $210,100, however, was still down 11.5 percent from $237,300 compared to the same time a year ago. There were 271,000 new homes for sale at the end of July, down more than 3 percent from May. At the current sales pace, that represents 7.5 months of supply, the lowest since April 2007. The decline means builders have scaled back on construction to the point where supply and demand are coming into balance.

    Source: Associated Press, Alan Zibel (08/26/09)