Fewer people bought new homes in December. The decline made 2011 the worst year for new -homes sales on records dating back nearly half a century.
The Commerce Department said Thursday new-home sales fell 2.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 307,000. The pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold in a healthy economy.
About 302,000 new homes were sold last year. That’s less than the 323,000 sold in 2010, making last year’s sales the worst on records dating back to 1963. And it coincides with a report last week that said 2011 was the weakest year for single-family home construction on record.
The median sales prices for new homes dropped in December to $210,300. Builders continued to slash price to stay competitive in the depressed market.
A key reason for the dismal 2011 sales is that builders must compete with foreclosures and short sales — when lenders accept less for a house than what is owed on the mortgage
Builders ended 2011 with a third straight year of dismal home construction and the worst on record for single-family home building.