WASHINGTON – Sales of newly built single-family homes declined 2.9% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 407,000 units, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. This was the slowest sales pace reported since January 1991.

“The fact that new-home sales continue to decline even in the face of substantial builder incentives, very favorable mortgage rates and improved housing affordability shows how fearful consumers have become about making a home purchase in the current economic environment. That’s why it is absolutely necessary for the government to take action that will reassure home buyers and stimulate demand in order to help revive home sales and economic growth,” said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Sandy Dunn, a homebuilder from Point Pleasant, WV.

“Today’s numbers clearly indicate continuing downward momentum in home sales activity, particularly in light of Commerce’s substantial downward revisions to new-home sales numbers in the past three months,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Sales of new homes are down 11.2 percent to date for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the third quarter. Meanwhile, our builder members are reporting worsening market conditions and sales expectations going forward, despite doing everything they can to get sales moving again and making progress in terms of reducing their inventories of unsold product. The reality is that more needs to be done. Government interventions in the form of an enhanced home buyer tax credit and a mortgage-rate buy-down have worked before, and can work again, to reassure buyers, kick-start demand and help turn the economy back in the right direction.”

The inventory of new homes for sale declined for the 19th consecutive month in November to 374,000 units, from 402,000 units in October. The months’ supply at the current sales pace declined to 11.5 from a revised 11.8 in October, which was a record high.

Regionally, new-home sales were mixed in November, with two regions posting gains and two posting declines. The Northeast and West each regained some ground, with 14.3 percent and 11 percent gains, respectively, while the Midwest and South posted declines of 16.4 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. All four regions were down by more than 25 percent on a year-over-year basis.

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