WASHINGTON - Sales of new single-family houses were down 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 321,000 in January, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
The January rate was above the 315,000 median annual rate projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, but below the revised December rate of 324,000. The rate was 3.5% above the January 2011 level of 310,000.
New home sales rose 11.1% in the Northeast and by 9.3% in the South, but they fell 24.5% in the Midwest and 10.6% in the West.
The median sales price of new houses sold in January climbed 0.3% to $217,100, but the average sales price fell 1.2% to $261,600.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 151,000, a record low, representing a supply of 5.6 months at the current sales rate.