US new-home sales slipped 0.4% in December

WASHINGTON — 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 that new single-family houses sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694,000 last month. 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.

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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.

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Correction: Sales in 2019 were the highest since 2007, not 2006 after misleading historical information was provided by the Commerce Department.

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