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Economy

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New home sales highest in more than 2 years

– U.S. sales of new homes jumped last month to the highest level in more than two years, further evidence of a sustained housing recovery that could help lift the lackluster economy.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new home sales rose 5.7 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 389,000. That’s up from a rate of 368,000 in August and the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer tax credit inflated sales.

Sales have risen 27.1 percent in the past year. That’s the strongest yearly gain since February, although sales are well below healthy levels.

The figures suggest the housing recovery is strengthening. The increase follows other reports that show home prices are rising more consistently, builders are starting to build more homes and sales of previously occupied homes are up in the past year.

Faster construction could help boost economic growth and hiring. And it could also encourage more people to put their homes on the market.

For now, rising sales are keeping inventories low. There were 145,000 new homes for sale at the end of September, near the record low of 143,000. That inventory would be exhausted in 4½ months at the current sales pace, the lowest level since October 2005. That could push up home prices in the coming months, economists said.

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