ECONOMY

US new-home sales slump 11.4 percent in March as sales tumble in Northeast and South

Sales of new U.S. homes plummeted in March, as the spring buying season opened with sharp declines in the Northeast and South.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales fell 11.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000. This marks a swift reversal from an annual sales pace of 543,000 in February, which had been the strongest performance in seven years.

Purchases of new homes have been volatile on a monthly basis, although sales during the first quarter of 2015 are higher than in 2014.

New-homes sales last month plunged 33 percent in the Northeast and 15.8 percent in the South, while the West registered a slight loss and the Midwest reported a modest gain.

The median sales price fell 1.7 percent since March 2014 to $277,400.