WASHINGTON, DC — Sales of new homes in August increased to a record 996,000 units on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, reported the U.S. Department of Commerce. That is a 1.9% increase over the July rate, which was revised downward to 977,000.

"Very low interest rates and the widely-held view that housing is a very good investment are largely responsible for the surge in new home sales," commented Gary Garczynski, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

In August, interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged about 6.3%, and rates for 15-year mortgages were even lower. In recent weeks, the average for 30-year loans has dropped to just over 6.0%.

"Housing is basically the only bright spot in today's economy," Garczynski added. "And it is almost certain that new homes sales this year will exceed last year's record of 908,000."

On a regional basis, new home sales increased 7.4% in the West and 1.3% in the South. They were unchanged in the Midwest, and dropped 9.5% in the Northeast.

Publication date: 09/30/2002