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U.S. new-home sales climbed 4.5% in March, and prices sank

Cory Booker
A newly constructed home in Natick, Mass.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

Sales of new U.S. homes increased 4.5% in March, the third straight monthly gain as the housing market appears to be cautiously recovering from a mortgage-rate spike last year that caused homebuying to slump.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 692,000 in March, up from 662,000 in February. For the first three months of 2019, new-home sales were up 1.7% compared with the same period last year.

March’s sales pace was the strongest since November 2017, a sign that the market is building some momentum. New-home sales began to rebound after the average 30-year mortgage rate fell from its recent peak of 5% last November.

The median sale price of a new home in March tumbled 9.7% to $302,700.

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