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New-home sales jump

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Posted: 12 pm ET

Following news of a winter slump in housing, the Commerce Department reports that sales of new, single-family homes hit a high in January not seen in more than five years.

mortgage-default-lgSales rose 9.6 percent from December to January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units -- the highest since July 2008. Sales were up 2.2 percent from January a year ago.

The regions were mixed: The Northeast skyrocketed by 73.7 percent, reaching a seven-month high. Sales in the South rose by 10.4 percent and in the West by 11 percent. However, the Midwest dropped by 17.2 percent.

You gotta pay more, though

Median prices for new homes sold in January rose 3.4 percent from a year ago to $260,000.

The housing market has been slowed by a combination of a lack of existing homes for sale, harsh winter weather in many parts of the country and a still-sluggish economic outlook.

Slow, modest growth

Lindsey Piegza, chief economist for Sterne Agee, said in a release that the homebuying market remains volatile month to month. But in the long term, we should see slow, modest growth. "This suggests a continued positive contribution to GDP and lays the foundation for a more sustainable housing market in the longer term, limiting the risk of creating a second-round housing bubble," she noted.

Keep up with your wealth and mortgages and follow me on Twitter: @JudyMartel.

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