U.S. new-home sales plummet

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) — U.S. sales of new single-family homes fell 17.3 percent in 2006, the largest decrease in 16 years, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday.

For December alone, new-home sales were up 4.8 percent, after rising 7.4 percent rise in November — both unusually warm months last year — but still 11 percent below December 2005’s figure, the department’s Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development said.

Some 1.06 million units were sold in 2006, down from 2005’s all-time sales high of 1.28 million units, the department said.

The plunge was the biggest fall since a 1990’s recession 17.8 percent drop.

The median new home price was up by 1.8 percent from 2005 but that price gain was far lower than the 9 percent jump in new home prices in 2005.

The news followed Thursday’s report that existing-home sales fell 8.4 percent to an annual rate of 6.48 million units, the biggest drop since 1989.

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