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July new-home sales were still weighed down, dropping 1.7 percent to 627,000, according to the Commerce Department. Inventory in July was 309,000, representing 5.9-months’ supply, and the median price was $328,700.

“Although this month marks the lowest sales pace since last October, we continue to see solid housing demand due to economic strengthening and positive demographic tailwinds,” said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, senior economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in an update. “Builders need to manage rising construction costs to keep their homes competitively priced for the newcomers to the housing market.”

“For the second month in a row, both new- and existing-home sales have come in below expectations, adding yet another data point to the mounting body of evidence pointing to a struggling housing market,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow, in a statement. “After a big jump in the latter half of 2017, new-home sales stagnated during the first half of 2018. Similar to existing-home sales that have seemingly reached a plateau around 5.5 million annual sales, new-home sales have been bouncing around near 650,000 sales for several months, and permits have been trending downward for some time.

“The only housing market indicator that has moved decisively higher in 2018 has been prices—everything else is flat,” Terrazas said. “Whatever progress has been made in new-home sales since the economic recovery began, recent data makes it clear that builders have been struggling to ramp up new single-family home construction for years. If building levels had largely stayed near their historic norms and had kept pace with population growth, there would be millions more single-family homes nationwide, and the current imbalance between housing supply and housing demand would not be nearly pronounced.

“A few months of incremental gains or losses will not meaningfully change that difficult fact,” said Terrazas.

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