WASHINGTON - The number of Americans buying new homes plummeted in March to the slowest pace in seven months, a sign that real estate's spring buying season is off to a weak start.
The Commerce Department says sales of new homes declined 14.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000. That was the second straight monthly decline and the lowest rate since July 2013.
Sales plunged in the U.S. Midwest, South and West in March. But they rebounded in the Northeast, where snowstorms in previous months curtailed purchases.
New-home sales have declined 13.3 percent over the past 12 months.
But median sales prices jumped 12.6 percent during the past month to $290,000. That's because new-home buyers in March bought more high-end properties compared to previous months.