WASHINGTON — Sales of new single-family houses dropped 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 368,000 in October, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The decelerated sales pace followed a sharply downwardly revised September rate of 369,000, originally reported as 389,000.

The October rate was well short of the 385,000 pace projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, but was 17.2% above the October 2011 level of 314,000.

New home sales rose 62.2% to 60,000 in the Midwest, and 8.8% to 111,000 in the West. Offsetting those gains were declines in the Northeast, where sales fell 32.3% to 21,000, and in the South where sales dropped 11.6% to 176,000.

The median sales price of new houses decreased 4.2% to $237,000 in October, from the revised September median price of $248,000. On a year-over-year basis, the median price rose 5.7% from $224,800 in October 2011.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of October was 147,000, up from the previous month's 145,000. That represents a supply of 4.8 months at the current sales rate.

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