- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — More people bought new homes for a second straight month in April, a hopeful sign. Still, sales remain far below the pace that would represent a healthy housing market.

New-home sales rose 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 323,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. A normal housing market would mean a pace of about 700,000 new-home sales a month.

People have little incentive to buy new homes, in part because they’re comparatively expensive. The median price of a new home rose more than 2 percent from March to $217,900. New-home prices are more than 30 percent higher the median price of resales — twice the normal markup.

Last year, Americans bought the fewest number of homes on records going back 47 years.

Fewer new homes mean fewer jobs. Each new home creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Many builders have been waiting for the glut of foreclosures and other distressed properties to be cleared before stepping up construction. But with a record 1.2 million foreclosures forecast this year, a recovery isn’t expected for years.

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