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April new home sales inch upward

ALAN ZIBEL google.com
A model home sign points the way to new condiminiums for sale on the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, May 27, 2009. The Commerce Department said Thursday, that sales rose 0.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

A model home sign points the way to new condiminiums for sale on the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, May 27, 2009. The Commerce Department said Thursday, that sales rose 0.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)


WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of newly built homes were flat last month, but were 7 percent above the rock-bottom lows of January as the battered U.S. real estate market appears to be starting a slow and gradual recovery.



The Commerce Department said Thursday that sales rose 0.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000.

But the increase came from a downwardly revised rate of 351,000 in March, and sales were still down 34 percent from a year earlier.

The median sales price fell to $209,700, down almost 15 percent drop from a year earlier, but up nearly 4 percent from March. Prices are likely to remain weak for months as builders try to price their stock of unsold homes against bargain-priced foreclosures.

"It's still tough to be a builder," wrote economist Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors. "New home sales remain near the bottom."

There were 297,000 new homes for sale at the end of April, down 4 percent from 310,000 in March and the lowest number of properties on the market in nearly eight years. At the current sluggish sales pace, it would take more than 10 months to exhaust the supply of new homes on the market.




New homes are shown Wednesday, May 27, 2009, in Happy Valley, Ore. The Commerce Department said Thursday, that sales rose 0.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 352,000. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


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