By Jeffry Bartash
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Sales of new single-family homes in the U.S. climbed to an annual rate of 372,000 in July from 359,000 in June, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Sales in June revised up from an original reading of 350,000. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast new home sales to rise to a seasonally adjusted 365,000 last month. The biggest increase took place in the Northeast, where sales rose nearly 77% after falling 55% in June. Sales also rose 7.7% in the Midwest. In the South, sales declined by 1.6% and purchases fell 0.9% in the West. New home sales are 25.3% higher compared to one year ago. The median price of new homes, meanwhile, dropped 2.1% to $224,200 last month from $229,100 in June. And the supply of new homes available for purchase on the U.S. market fell to 4.6 months at the current sales pace from 4.8 months in the prior month. The combination of faster sales and a slow rate of construction resulted in the number of new homes on sale falling to a record low of 142,000 in July.