New-home sales moved up in November to log the second-best monthly rate seen this year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sales of new, single-family homes gained 1.6% from October’s revised rate, for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000. Year-over-year, November’s number was up 9.8%.

The reading was the third consecutive monthly improvement—the result of gains in the South and Midwest, despite steep drops in the Northeast and West. The South, which logged more than twice as many sales as any other region, was up 12.9%; the Midwest was up 7.5%. The Northeast declined 26.3%, and the West was down 16.9%.

But while the reading is certainly welcome news, November’s numbers aren’t enough to redeem new-home sales from a rock-bottom year. New-home sales, starts, and permits are all on target to hit record lows in 2011 (data start in 1963, 1959, and 1960, respectively). Even with its improvement, November’s number was the 16th lowest on record.

Prices did not share in the monthly gains: Both the median and average sales prices for new houses sold fell for the month. November’s median price was $214,100; the average was $242,900. On an annual basis, both the average and median prices were lower, down 2.5% and 13.8%, respectively.

Inventory of new homes for sale also fell, hitting a record low at 158,000.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Greenville, SC.