WASHINGTON (AP) — Buyers purchased the fewest number of new homes last year on records going back 47 years.
The Commerce Department says sales for all of 2010 totaled 321,000, a drop of 14.4 percent from the 375,000 homes sold in 2009. It was the fifth consecutive year that sales have declined after hitting record highs for the five previous years when the housing market was booming.
Economists say it could be years before sales hit a healthy rate of 600,000 units a year.
The year ended on a stronger note. Buyers purchased new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 329,000 units in December, a 17.5 percent increase from the November pace.