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US new home sales slip in November

Construction workers build a new home on October 24, 2012 in Miami, Florida
Construction workers build a new home on October 24, 2012 in Miami, Florida

Sales of new US homes edged lower in November after a strong rise the prior month, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday.

New sales for single-family homes hit a seasonally-adjusted 464,000 in November, down 2.1 percent from the revised October count, according to the data. The median analyst forecast was for sales of 433,000.

Sales in October had jumped 17.6 percent to 474,000, the highest level since January 1992, and September sales jumped 3.9 percent to 403,000, according to revised data released Tuesday.

The sales in November rose 16.6 percent compared with a year ago.

The median sales price of new houses in November was $270,900, while the average price was $340,300, a record.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of November was 167,000, a supply of about 4.3 months at the current sale rate.

Analysts said the overall picture drawn by the data was robust, despite the slight decline in new home sales.

"New home sales remain elevated, a signal that demand is still strong but limited by inventory," said analyst Mei Li of FTN Financial. "Also, buyers appear eager to grab currently affordable mortgage rates before they go higher."

Economist Joel Naroff characterized demand for new homes as "quite strong."

"Prices were up quite strongly while inventories keep falling," Naroff said. "That is a recipe for further price increases."

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