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New-home purchases slip from November

While new-home purchases fell in the closing month of December, buyers are still in the market at a pace that's over and above the same time last year, according to newly released statistics from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

In December, mortgage applications for newly built residences dropped by 5 percent on a month-over-month basis, MBA reported. At the same time, though, new-home inquiries are operating at a faster clip than this time last year. Approximately 17 percent more new homes were bought year-over-year.

In terms of the kinds of loans that buyers gravitated toward, conventional mortgages were the runaway favorite. The conventional variety comprised roughly 68 percent of total applications, according to MBA's findings, followed by loans administered by the Federal Housing Administration at 18 percent and Veterans Administration at just under 18 percent. Their average worth was $333,182, up from roughly $320,850 in November.

The national median for single-family homes in today's real estate marketplace is roughly $225,000, according to the latest estimates from the National Association of Realtors.

Lynn Fisher, MBA's vice president of research and economics, pointed out that December was a mixed bag as far as home buying activity goes.

"The [Building Application Survey] showed mixed-results last month with some lenders seeing steady or slightly increasing application levels while others saw declines," Fisher explained. "On net, we estimate that new single-family home sales were down by about 8 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis relative to November, but remain 17 percent above a year ago."

In terms of raw numbers, about 34,000 new homes were bought countrywide in December, according to MBA's findings, unadjusted for the seasons. That's down by just over 8 percent in November, when 37,000 new-home transactions transpired.

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