New home sales climb - but recovery is sluggish

By Laurie Segall, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- New home sales edged higher in November, but the recovery remains sluggish.

Sales of new homes rose 5.5% to an annual rate of 290,000 in November, the Commerce Department reported Friday. And while that shows improvement, sales are still off 21.2% from a year ago.

The results also fell short of analysts' expectations. Housing experts at expected sales to increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000 units, from a revised 275,000 unit rate in October.

The median price of a new home in November was $213,000, up from $194,000 in October, which was the lowest price in seven years. Additionally, the most popular price point for homes was between $150,000 and $300,000.

Although the numbers indicate a slight improvement, little has changed, according to IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport.

"It's just another bad report. There's some improvement but it's fiscally insignificant," he said. "It means that we're basically still stuck at the bottom - that the situation for builders is as bad its ever been."

Newport says he expects the numbers to improve in 2011, but at a slow pace.

"I think that things are going to get better going forward...still the levels are going to be very slow," he said.

On Wednesday, a report from the National Association of Realtors indicated that home resales rose 5.6% in November but were still off nearly 30% from a year ago. To top of page

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