Fewer Americans purchased new homes in October, but sales are still much stronger this year than in 2015 — a positive sign for the housing market.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales fell 1.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 563,000 units. Still, sales through the first 10 months of this year are 12.7 percent higher than during the same period in 2015.

Demand for new homes has surged because of a stable job market and low mortgage rates. Housing continues to heal from the Great Recession, with sales recovering but running below their historic averages.

Sales fell last month in the Northeast, Midwest and South, while improving in the West.

The median sales price increased 1.9 percent from a year ago to $304,500.