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US new homes sales fell 0.7% in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. new home sales fell slightly in September with all regions of the country except the Midwest showing declines. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new homes fell 0.7% last month following a big 6.2% surge in sales in August. Homes were sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 701,000, 15.5% higher than a year ago.

Many economists had expected sales to keep rising in September, reflecting declining mortgage rates and ultra-low unemployment. However, the housing industry is combating a variety of factors that are holding back growth ranging from a shortage of construction workers to a lack of available land for new homes.

The median price of a new home fell 7.9% last month to $299,400, down from an August price of $325,200. The only region to post a sales gain was the Midwest where sales rose 6.3%. Sales in the West fell 3.8% and were down 2.8% in the Northeast and a slight 0.2% in the South.

The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of previously owned homes , the biggest part of the market, fell 2.2% in September with rising prices and lower inventories blamed for the decline.

Homeowners in both the existing sales market and the new market have had to face a shortage of available properties this year, especially at the lower-priced end of the market. The inventory of new homes for sale fell 0.6% September to 321,000, or a 5.5-months supply at the September sales pace.

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