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New home sales show strong gains in the Albuquerque metro area and the U.S.

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New-home sales jumped in the Albuquerque area and across the country in January from the previous month, a sign the housing recovery is picking up steam.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new-home sales rose nearly 16 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000. The percentage increase was the largest in nearly 20 years. And December’s sales were revised higher to 378,000 from 369,000.

In a separate measure, the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors reported 1,247 new home sales in January a 56 percent increase over the 799 sales in December and an 11 percent rise from 1,119 sales in January 2012.

January 2013 was the highest January sales month for the greater Albuquerque market since 2008, GAAR reported.

“With days on market to sell a home decreasing and favorable mortgage conditions, January offered homebuyers several incentives to jump into the market,” GAAR president Julie Greenwood said in a statement.

“We are pleased to see the housing market continue its recovery,” she said.

The Realtors Association of New Mexico – which measures a combination of new and existing homes – reported a year-over-year 19 percent increase comparing last month to January 2012 and nearly a 24 percent jump from January 2011.

RANM president Cathy Colvin called it a “great way to start 2013.”

Non-seasonally adjusted RANM data showed a decrease in sales in January over December with 970 sales compared to 1,192.

Steady, modest job creation and near-record-low mortgage rates are spurring more Americans to buy houses.

The increases in new-home sales are coming from depressed levels. Sales plummeted to a record low in 2011. And sales are still well below the 700,000 annual level that economists consider healthy.

The biggest gain in new-home sales was in the West, where they soared 45.3 percent.

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