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New Home Sales Edge Up

Sales of newly built, single-family homes edged up 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000 units in November, according to newly released figures by the U.S. Commerce Department. This marks the third consecutive monthly gain in new-home sales and the fastest pace of such activity since April.

"We have now seen three straight months of modest gains in sales, starts and builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes," said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev. "While the numbers are still quite low on a historic basis, this upward trend indicates that the market is slowly finding its footing and bodes well for the months ahead. Our concern is that overly restrictive lending conditions for both builders and buyers will constrain this growth and postpone the arrival of a recovery in housing and the overall economy."

"Extremely favorable mortgage rates and prices are starting to lure buyers back to the market in select areas of the country where the economy is strengthening," said NAHB Senior Economist Robert Denk. "As a result of this improving demand and the limited amount of new construction that is taking place, inventories of new homes for sale continued to fall to another all-time record low in November. Such limited supplies should eventually lead to some greater building activity in those improving markets, which in turn will boost job growth and further economic gains."

Regionally, new-home sales were mixed in November. The South and Midwest posted gains of 12.9 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, while the Northeast and West posted respective declines of 26.3 percent and 16.9 percent.

The inventory of new homes for sale fell 1.3 percent to 158,000 units in November. This is a new record low and represents a six-month supply at the current sales pace.