Sales of new single-family homes dropped 1.8% to a 590,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate in January, according to data released by the Commerce Department yesterday.

The February figure came after an upwardly revised 601,000 rate in January, a 1.8% drop, originally reported as a 2.8% decrease to 588,000. IFR Markets’ poll of economists had predicted a 575,000 sales level for February.

Sales of new homes were 29.8% below the 840,000 rate in February 2007, Commerce said.

The supply of new homes at the current sales rate held at 9.8 months, unchanged from 9.8 months in January.

At the end of February, the number of new homes on the market dipped to 471,000 from 481,000.

The unadjusted average price of a new single-family home gained to $296,400 from $282,500.

Meanwhile, the unadjusted median price jumped to $244,100 from $225,600 in January.

Sales dropped in the Northeast and Midwest, and rose in the South and West.

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