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New Home Sales Up, Inventory Down

New home sales ticked up 0.3% in April from last month's revised rate as buyers continued to work through months of inventory for sale. April saw a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000 new units sold, 34% below the sales rate seen in April '08, according to a joint release published today by the US Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Economists previously surveyed by MarketWatch expected an annual rate of 365,000 new units in April. Despite the lower-than anticipated sales rate of new homes, the industry reported a narrowed supply of inventory for sale. The Census Bureau and HUD jointly estimated a seasonally adjusted supply of 297,000 new houses for sale at the end of April, a 10.1-month supply at the current sales rate. The slow uptick in new home sales rates this year caused a steady decrease in the months' supply level. January ended with 12.4 months of supply at the sales rate recorded that month. February ended with 10.8 months of supply, while March closed with a 10.6-month supply. The volume of new homes sold in the Northeast region remained at an annual rate of 19,000 units since March. The Midwest region also saw the same annual rate of 45,000. The South region posted the only monthly increase in its annual rate, from 208,000 units annually in March to 212,000 units annually in April. The rate of new homes sold in the West posted the only monthly decline, from 79,000 units annually in March to 76,000 units annually in April. Write to Diana Golobay.

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