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New-home sales up, but pace remains sluggish

WASHINGTON — More Americans bought new homes in April, but sales remain far below the pace that would represent a healthy housing market.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales rose 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 323,000 homes. It is the second straight monthly gain. A normal housing market would mean a pace of about 700,000 new-home sales a month.

People have little incentive to buy new homes, in part because they’re comparatively expensive. Last year, Americans bought the fewest number of homes on records going back 47 years.

Fewer new homes mean fewer jobs. Each new home creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.