U.S. new-home sales slip 0.4% in December

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real estate sign
In this Sept. 3, 2019, file photo a sign rests near a piece of earth-moving equipment, left, on a plot of land, in Westwood, Massachusetts. AP photo/Steven Senne, file photo

U.S. sales of newly built homes fell 0.4% in December, cooling slightly after low mortgage rates fueled gains for much of 2019.

The Commerce Department said Monday, Jan. 27, that new single-family houses sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694,000 in December. But for all of 2019, sales climbed 10.3% to 681,000, the highest total since 2007 when 776,000 new homes were sold as the housing bubble was beginning to deflate ahead of the Great Recession.

Last year’s gains were driven entirely by new homes purchased in the South and West. Sales of new homes slumped in the Northeast and Midwest in 2019.

Lower mortgage rates began to boost real estate sales relative to 2018. December’s median new-home sales price was $331,400, up 0.5% from a year ago.