The median price for a new home rose in December to $248,900, up 1.3 percent from November and 13.8 percent from December 2011.
The supply of homes for sale also inched up to 151,000 — the most in a year. Fewer homes for sale have helped drive prices higher and made many markets more competitive. They have also encouraged more homebuilding.
The housing market has a long way back to a full recovery. But most economists expect the recovery will strengthen in 2013.
One reason is more people are looking to buy or rent a home after living with relatives or friends during and immediately after the Great Recession.
Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing sales market, they have an outside impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenues, according to data from the National Association of Homebuilders.
The gains in home building helped boost construction hiring in December by 30,000 jobs, the most in 15 months.