New home sales in the U.S. fell much more than expected in January, the Department of Commerce reported Thursday. Meanwhile, the median sale price fell to $201,100.

New home sales fell to an annualized pace of 309k, a 10.2% decline from December, the report said. The previous month's reading of 324k sales was revised up to 344k.

Economists were expecting a 2.1% fall to 324k. Inventories rose to a pace of 13.3 months - a record high - up from a downwardly revised 12.2-month supply in December.

The median sale price of new houses was down from an upwardly revised $223,200 in December. Annually, prices have fallen 13.5%.

Sales fell across most regions. In the West, the pace of sales fell to 59k in January from an upwardly revised 82k in December, while sales in the Midwest fell to 51k from an upwardly revised 54k. Sales in the South moved down to 172k from an upwardly revised 184k in December. The pace of sales rose in the Northeast to 27k from a downwardly revised 24k in December.

By Megan Ainscow and edited by Sarah Sussman
©CEP News Ltd. 2009