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26real estate brief for biz

New home sales up slightly

WASHINGTON — New home sales posted an unexpected increase in September but remained near the lowest level in a decade, according to a Commerce Department report.

Analysts viewed the small gain as highly questionable, given the severe credit crunch that rocked the housing industry this summer.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new homes rose by 4.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 770,000 units. Economists had looked for a 2.5 percent decline.

All the strength came in the West, a region pounded by the credit crunch. New home sales in that region increased by nearly 38 percent, while sales fell 19.5 percent in the Midwest and 6.6 percent in the Northeast.

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The report on home sales showed that the median new home price in September — the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less — rose to $238,000, 2.5 percent more than in from August.

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