WASHINGTON – Sales of new single-family homes dropped in January following sales gains in November and December, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department. The preliminary sales pace declined 16.6% for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 937,000 units, down 20.1% from a year earlier. The decline was particularly harsh for builders in the West.

"The falloff in new-home sales in January largely reflected a return to more normal weather conditions, following the weather-related increase in sales late last year," said David Seiders, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. "NAHB's monthly surveys actually have been showing modest improvements in builders’ confidence regarding home buyer demand since last September."

The inventory of new homes for sale edged down in January to 536,000 units, the lowest since February 2006 and equivalent to a six to eight month supply at the January sales pace, according to NAHB.

All four regions across the country posted declines in the pace of new homes sales in January. Sales for the month were down 18.7% in the Northeast, 8.1% in the Midwest, 9.7% in the South and 37.4% in the West.

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