New home sales in Australia fell for the first time in five months in July, an industry survey of Australian builders released on Thursday by the Housing Industry Association (HIA) found. The HIA New Home Sales report showed that total seasonally adjusted new home sales fell by 4.7 percent in July. It was the first decline in total sales since February, the HIA said. Detached house sales fell by 6.4 percent in July, which was also the first decline since February when sale dropped by 4.0 percent. However, the report found sales of multi-units rose 7.2 percent in July following a sharp fall of 17.5 percent in June. HIA chief economist Harley Dale said there had been strong growth in housing construction earlier in the year. \"One monthly fall, while disappointing, does not really change the story,\" he said in a statement. \"That having been said, the re-emergence of a sustained decline for new home sales over the second half of the year would, obviously, be a negative signal for residential construction and the wider Australian economy.\" Dale said housing construction was still at quite low levels. \"To be confident that actual new home construction will grow in 2013/14, we need to see clear and consistent evidence of further upward momentum in leading indicators such as new home sales,\" he said.