The rate of new single-family home sales dropped 42 percent in April compared to the same month last year, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported.

New-home sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 526,000 in April — this rate is a projection of a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

The rate was up 3.3 percent from a 17-year low recorded in March 2008, though the Census Bureau notes that monthly changes can show irregular movement and it can take five months to establish a trend in sales data.

Regionally, the sales rate dropped about 58 percent in the Northeast, 41.7 percent in the South, 39.7 percent in the Midwest and 37.8 percent in the West in April 2008 compared to April 2007, according to the report.

The sales data is based on a survey of a sample of homes selected from building permits and a sale is defined as a deposit taken or a signed sales agreement.

The median sales price of new homes sold in April was $246,100, up 1.5 percent compared to April 2007, and the average sales price was $321,000, up 3 percent.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors trade group reported that the median price of resale homes dropped 8 percent in April 2008 compared to April 2007, with sales of single-family resale homes falling 17.5 percent year-over-year in April.

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