The Commerce Department today reported that 2007 sales of new single-family homes fell at their sharpest clip since 1963, the year it first began tracking these figures.

An estimated 774,000 new homes were sold last year, down approximately 26.4 percent from 2006 when 1.05 million homes sold. The last time new-home sales registered such a large annual drop was in 1980 when sales were off 23 percent.

For December, sales of new single-family homes, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 604,000, were 4.7 percent lower than November’s revised rate of 634,000 and approximately 40.7 percent lower than the December 2006 estimate of 1.02 million.

By region, December sales in the South fell 6.5 percent from November and 36.3 percent from a year ago; sales in the West sank 6 percent from November and 42.9 percent from a year earlier; and Midwest sales dipped 1.2 percent from November and 55.8 percent from December 2006.

The only Census region to see an increase in sales between November and December 2007 was the Northeast, where closed transactions grew 6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis — although sales were still off 27.4 percent from a year ago.

The median sales price of new houses sold last month was $219,200, a 10.9 percent drop from November’s $245,900 and a 10.4 percent decline from $244,900 a year ago.

At the end of December, there were a seasonally adjusted 495,000 new homes for sale, which represents a supply of 9.6 months at the current sales rate.

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