U.S. sales of new homes in January fell 11.2% from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 309,000, the Commerce Department reported. The January rate was also 6.1% below the rate of sales for January 2009.
The decline in new-homes sales came as a surprise to economists, who had expected an increase. Wintry weather in parts of the country took some of the blame for the poor sales showing, although sales have declined for three straight months and the housing market has struggled to rebound from the major downturn of the last two years.
Regionally, new-home sales in January declined 35.1% in the Northeast, 9.5% in the South, and 11.9% in the West compared to December. Sales edged up 2.1% in the Midwest.
Compared to January of 2009, sales last month dropped 20% in the Northeast, 7.5% in the Midwest, and 10.5% in the South, while managing a gain of 13.8% in the West.