Sales of new single-family houses rose 7.3% from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 323,000 in April, according to estimates from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development released Tuesday.

Though still 23.1% below April 2010, when the federal home-buyer tax credit was in effect, sales beat Wall Street expectations for a pace of 305,000.The public builder stocks, except Avatar (NASDAQ:AVTR), were up modestly on the news midmorning.

The March gain, previously reported as an 11.1% increase, was revised downward to an 8.3% gain over February to a pace of 301,000.

Prices rose as well, with the April median coming in at $217,900, up from $214,500 in March and $208,300 last April. The average price also was up, rising to $268,900 from $250,000 in March but down slightly from $270,500 in April, 2010.

New-home inventory was down 2.8% from March to 175,000, 19.4% below the level of last April and a 6.5-month supply, the lowest that metric has dipped in a year. It was at 6.2 months last April before rising to 9.2 months in May. Median months for sale rose slightly to 8.8 from 8.7 in March.

The biggest jump came in the West, which was up 15.1% from March to a pace of 84,000, still 19.4% behind the April 2010 seasonally adjusted annual rate. The Northeast was up 7.7% to a pace of 28,000, 22.2% behind a year earlier. The Midwest rose 4.9% to a pace of 43,000, down 21.8% from last April. The South, the largest region, was up 4.3% to a pace of 168,000, 24.7% behind the pace at the same time last year.

Not seasonally adjusted, Census and HUD estimated 32,000 homes were sold during the month, 3,000 in the Northeast, 4,000 in the Midwest, 16,000 in the South and 8,000 in the West.