New home sales plunge in November

New home sales fell 9 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 647,000 -- the lowest annual rate in 12 years -- according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Economists had forecast November sales at an annual rate of 715,000, which would have represented a 1.8 percent drop. The actual rate of 647,000 was the lowest since 621,000, recorded in April 1995.

Year over year, new home sales were 34.4 percent lower than in November 2006, representing the largest year-to-year decline since January 1991.

New home sales in the Midwest region were particularly weak, falling 27.6 percent to the slowest pace since July 1991. Sales also decreased in the South (6.4 percent) and Northeast (19.3 percent), but rose in the West (4 percent).

In addition, the median price for a new home decreased by 0.4 percent to $239,100. The ratio of new houses for sale to houses sold rose during November to 9.3, from 8.8 in October.