The Commerce Department on Thursday reported that single-family home sales fell 14.7% from November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 331,000, according to estimates from U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The December figure was 44.8% below the rate at the same time in 2007.

An estimated 482,000 new homes were sold in 2008, 37.8% below the 776,000 in 2007.

The median sales price fell 6% from November to $206,500; the average sales price was $246,900, down 14.5% from November, which had shown slight increases from October. In comparison, the median price in December 2007 was $227,700 and the average price was $284,400.

The inventory of new homes for sale at the end of December was estimated at 357,000, a supply of 12.9 months at the current sales rate, up from 12.5 months in November.

Regionally, on a month-to-month basis, sales were down 28.2% in the Northeast, -5.6% in the Midwest, -12.1% in the South and -20.2% in the West. In a year-over-year comparison, sales were down 50.0% in the Northeast, -31.1% in the Midwest, -46.0% in the south and -47.4% in the West.