WASHINGTON (AP) — New-home sales dipped in November, but the government released more positive figures for the previous three months, a sign that housing may be regaining strength after a summer lull.
Sales slipped 2.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The slight drop occurred after sales had surged to a rate of 474,000 in October. That was the fastest pace since 2008 and was 17.6 percent above the September level — the biggest one-month jump in 21 years.
The annual pace of new-home sales remains well below the 700,000 generally consistent with a healthy market. But economists are encouraged by a pickup in sales after a slowdown likely caused by higher mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates had spiked amid investor concerns about how fast the Federal Reserve would remove its support for the economy.
The government's report Tuesday revised up new-home sales for the three months preceding November. August's total was revised up by 9,000, September's by 49,000 and October's by 30,000.
"The rebound in sales following the sharp slowdown in July was much stronger than originally reported," said Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays.
Mark Vitner, senior economist at Well Fargo, said, "The housing recovery remains well in place."
He noted that mortgage rates are still low by historic standards and should support sales next year. Vitner predicted that new-home sales would rise next year to an annual pace of around 530,000.
In a separate report, the Mortgage Bankers Association said the number of Americans applying for mortgages fell 6.3 percent last week from the previous week. Applications have reached a 13-year low, down 63 percent from their May peak.
Much of the decline reflects a drop-off in refinancings as rates have risen. The average for the 30-year mortgage was 4.47 percent last week, up nearly a full percentage point from last spring.