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New home sales down again in the US

The US Commerce Department said that new home sales dropped 1.6 per cent last month to an annualized rate of 313,000, while total sales have fallen seven per cent since December.

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A home under construction in San Mateo, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

US new home sales fell in February for the second month in a row, while house prices began to rise, according to new figures.

The US Commerce Department said Friday that new home sales dropped 1.6 per cent last month to an annualized rate of 313,000, while total sales have fallen seven per cent since December, according to the Associated Press.

Only 150,000 new homes were on sale in January and February, a nearly 50-year record low.

The number of new home sales is less than half of the 700,000 figure that economists feel is a healthy number for the US economy.

Yet, according to Bloomberg, the median sales price of homes increased 6.2 per cent in February since last year to $233,700, a small sign of a recovery in housing prices.

Mild weather and strong job growth seem not to have bolstered home sales.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the new home sales were mixed regionally with numbers falling in the South and Midwest but rising in the Northeast and the West.

"Despite renewed hopes over the turn of the year for an imminent turn in housing, it appears that it is too early for such optimism to translate into a rapid pick-up in real activity," said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an analyst at BNP Paribas, to the Associated Press.

As newly-built home sales have dropped, foreclosures and short sales now account for more than 33 per cent of all home sales.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120323/new-homes-sales-down-again-the-us