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U.S. New Home Sales Slip 0.9% In January But Come In Higher Than Expected

U.S. New Home Sales Slip 0.9% In January But Come In Higher Than Expected
2/24/2012 10:31 AM ET

Sales of new homes in the U.S. came in at a higher than expected level in January, according to figures released Friday by the Commerce Department, although sales showed a modest decrease compared to the previous month.

New home sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 321,000 in January, notably higher than the 315,000 predicted by most economists.

However, the January rate actually represents a slight, 0.9 percent drop from the revised December rate of 324,000.

The December sales rate was revised significantly upward from the 307,000 initially reported and marks the highest level of new home sales since December 2010.

The median sales price for new homes ticked up 0.3 percent in January to $217,100 from $216,500 in December.

New home sales were particularly strong in the Northeast, rising 11.1 percent, while sales also climbed 9.3 percent in the South, the largest housing market measured by the Commerce Department.

Offsetting those increases, sales in the Midwest dropped 24.5 percent, while sales in the west fell by 10.6 percent.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of January was 151,000, representing 5.6 months of supply at current rates. The months of supply figure is down from 5.7 months in December and represents a six-year low.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors release a report showing a notable increase in existing home sales in the month of January, although the report also showed a significant downward revision to the data for December.

The report showed that existing home sales rose 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.57 million in January from a downwardly revised 4.38 million unit rate in December.

While the monthly increase far exceeded the 1.1 percent growth anticipated by economists, the number for December was well below the 4.61 million unit rate that had originally been reported.

by RTT Staff Writer

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