U.S. New-Home Sales Surged in November

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WASHINGTON—Sales of newly built homes soared in November.

New-home sales rose 16.9% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected new-home sales to reach an annual rate of 571,000.

The report on November home sales had been postponed because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The new-home sales figure is a rough estimate that comes with a big margin of error. The figure is often revised later.

Despite the November increase, sales of new homes were down 7.7% compared to a year earlier, suggesting a bumpy housing market over the broader term. Higher mortgage rates and a runup in prices have dented home purchases over the past year.

The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose about 1 percentage point to nearly 5% from the start of 2018 to last November, according to Freddie Mac. The average rate has since fallen half a point to just under 4.5%.

Newly built homes are a slice of the overall housing market. Previously owned homes, known as existing homes, are the bulk of the market. Existing-home sales tumbled in December from a month earlier and fell 10.3% over the past 12 months, the National Association of Realtors reported last month.

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