Washington (AP) — U.S. new-home sales jumped in January from the previous month to the highest level since July 2008, a sign that the housing recovery is accelerating.
The Commerce Department said new-home sales rose almost 16 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000. The percentage increase was the largest in almost 20 years.
Steady job creation and near record-low mortgage rates are spurring more Americans to buy houses. At the same time, the number of previously occupied homes for sale is at a 13-year low. That shortage creates more demand for new homes.
Still, the increases are coming from depressed levels. New-home sales plummeted to a record low in 2011. And sales still are well below the 700,000 annual level that economists consider healthy.