US new-home sales fell 1.7 percent in July

WASHINGTON — Sales of new U.S. homes slumped 1.7 percent in July, the second straight monthly decline as the broader housing market appears to have lost some of its momentum despite an otherwise solid economy.

The Commerce Department says newly built homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 last month, down from 638,000 in June and 654,000 in May. Despite the slowdown, new-home sales have risen 7.2 percent year-to-date.

Steady hiring gains and signs of stronger economic growth have boosted demand for housing. But higher mortgage rates and a tight inventory of homes on the market has made affordability a challenge for many would-be buyers.

The average sales price has risen 5.8 percent from a year ago to $394,300.

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