New home sales picked up pace in the United States in November while the prices of homes sold slipped, Commerce Department data showed Friday.
While there was a slight seasonal downturn in actual homes sold, the seasonally adjusted annual pace based on November sales was 315,000, up from 310,000 in October.
"The trend in sales, according to these data, remains about flat at a very depressed level," said Ian Shepherdson at High Frequency Economics.
The median price of homes sold was $214,100, compared to the 2010 full-year median of $221,800 and $247,900 in 2007, the highest annual figure before the crash.
The number of houses for sale on the market, 158,000, was the lowest ever in the Commerce Department's data, which goes back to 1963 -- a six month's supply given the slow pace of sales.
The number of actual homes sold was 9.8 percent higher than a year earlier.
"At least builders have rid themselves of excess inventory ... so as sales pick up, new construction will follow," said Shepherdson.
"We think 2012 will be the year housing finally starts to recover properly."
With home loan interest rates at record lows, hitting 3.91 percent last week for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, economists are looking for signs that the devastated real estate sector might have hit bottom and begin turning around.