New-home sales dropped to an all-time low in February, falling an estimated 16.9 percent from January 2011 and sinking 28 percent compared to February 2010, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 250,000, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

The rate of single-family new-home sales in February was down 82 percent from a peak of 1.39 million, set in July 2005. The previous all-time low of 274,000, in records dating back to 1963, was set in August 2010.

"February’s sales numbers add to the mounting evidence that the housing recovery is hesitating along with the inconsistent progress of the economic recovery," said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, in a statement.

The NAHB also noted that "even qualified buyers who are ready to make a purchase are facing frustrating challenges in terms of tight consumer lending conditions and inappropriately low appraisal values on new construction."

Record lows were reported in the new-home sales rate in three of four U.S. regions in February: the sales rate from one month earlier plunged an estimated 57.1 percent in the Northeast, 27.5 percent in the Midwest, and 6.3 percent in the South. Compared to February 2010, new-home sales dropped 50 percent in the Northeast, 40.8 percent in the Midwest, and 17.8 percent in the South. In the West, the new-home sales rate dropped 14.7 percent from January to February and fell 34.1 percent compared to February 2010.

The median sales price of new single-family homes, at $202,100 in February, dropped to the lowest level since December 2003, when it stood at $196,000. And the average price, at $246,000, was at the lowest level since January 2009, when it stood at $245,200.

The median single-family new-home price fell 8.9 percent, and the average price fell 13.4 percent year-over-year in February.

On Monday, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of resale single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums dropped 9.6 percent compared to January and dipped 2.8 percent year-over-year in February, with the median price dropping 4.2 percent year-over-year, to $157,000.

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