Report: November New Home Sales Are Higher Sales of existing homes rose last month to a annual rate of more than 6.5 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's the highest level in more than three years. The reasons for the rise are low prices and an extended homebuyer tax credit.

Report: November New Home Sales Are Higher

Report: November New Home Sales Are Higher

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Sales of existing homes rose last month to a annual rate of more than 6.5 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's the highest level in more than three years. The reasons for the rise are low prices and an extended homebuyer tax credit.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And it was a gloomy report that came out today on the housing market. The government said sales of new homes last month dropped more than 11 percent. It's a setback for those hoping for a stronger housing market. Yesterday, hopes were raised by the National Association of Realtors, which said that last month's sales of existing homes rose more than seven percent.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman has more.

WENDY KAUFMAN: A federal tax credit of up to $8,000 and low home prices fueled November's sales. Indeed, the National Association of Realtors says over half of the sales were to first-time buyers who qualified for the tax break. They scrambled to take advantage of the program, which was initially said to expire at the end of November. Congress has since extended the credit through next April.

So far, an estimated two million Americans have taken advantage of it - some of them clients of Seattle real estate broker Tara Cummins.

Ms. TARA CUMMINS (Real Estate Broker): They could buy homes that needed a little bit more improvement or they felt like they could spend all the money that they actually did have saved knowing that they would get a reimbursement on their taxes.

KAUFMAN: Housing prices remained soft in November. The median selling price fell, but the dip was the smallest in two years. Overall, the latest figures were good news for the economy. But some analysts caution that the housing market remains reliant on government support. The market isn't likely to see a sustained recovery until the nation's unemployment rate drops substantially.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News, Seattle.

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