New home sales decline in December

By Andrew Khouri Los Angeles Times

Sales of new homes fell in December, a drop that missed expectations and signaled the housing market slowed to end the year.

Sales of recently built homes dropped 7 percent from November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 414,000, the Commerce Department said Monday. November’s rate was also revised downward from 464,000 to 445,000.

New home sales had been strong recently despite weakness in other housing market indicators, such as sales of previously owned homes. New home sales fell in all regions except the Midwest, where they rose 17.6 percent from November. Sales dropped 8.8 percent in the West, 7.3 percent in the South, and 36.4 percent in the Northeast.

While December’s data represent a pullback, last year saw renewed interest among home buyers for new construction.

Sales of new homes rose 4.5 percent from December 2012. By year’s end, an estimated 428,000 new homes sold in 2013, 16.4 percent more than the previous year.