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Data: Census Bureau, FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

There are a lot of homes available for sale. The catch: you can’t move into them yet.

Why it matters: Strong demand for homes has driven up prices as the supply of homes for sale is at depressed levels.

By the numbers: According to July new home sales report released on Tuesday, the Census Bureau revealed that the inventory of new homes available for sale climbed 5.5% month over month to 367,000 units in July.

  • This is the highest level of new homes for sale since November 2008.

Yes, but: A record low — just 9.8% — of those homes were completed. In other words, most of the inventory was still under construction or not yet started.

  • "This implies that people can't see much of the inventory in the new housing market," Neil Dutta, head of economics at Renaissance Macro Research, tells Axios.

The big picture: There’s no shortage of evidence that suggests the elevated total inventory of new homes for sales belies the fact that demand for homes remains very strong.

  • The median price of a new home sold in July was a record $390,500.
  • During the month, there were 689,000 single-family homes under construction, the highest level since July 2007.

"Sure, we are not seeing desperate buying behavior like earlier in the pandemic, but builders still have plenty of homes to build," Dutta says.

The bottom line: While an unbuilt home is technically something that a seller can sell, it’s usually not something that many buyers will buy.

  • "What happens when the home is finally completed?" Dutta says. "It is sold in less than four months! So, this is tight and perhaps one reason why prices are still running quite firm."

Go deeper

U.S. retail sales beat expectations for second month in a row

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The strength of retail sales data has shocked prognosticators for the second month in a row.

What’s new: Although September spending was lower than the peaks reached in the post-vax, pre-Delta variant honeymoon economy of the spring, consumers still spent more defiantly than economists had expected.

3 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."