Sales of new single-family homes in December 2007 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 604,000, according to estimates released today by the Census Bureau and HUD.

The numbers were 4.7 percent below the revised November rate of 634,000 and 40.7 percent below the December 2006 estimate of 1,019,000.

The median sales price of new homes sold in December was $219,000, while the average sales price was $267,300. Both numbers are down more than 10 percent from a year earlier. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of December was 495,000. This represents a supply of 9.6 months at the current sales rate.

According to government estimates, 774,000 new homes were sold in 2007. This is 26.4 percent below the 2006 figure of 1,051,000.

Waltham, Mass.-based research firm Global Insight said the decline was the largest percentage drop since at least 1963, the historical starting point for the statistic. Since peaking in July 2005, new home sales have fallen 56.5 percent.

Homes sales were up 6 percent in the Northeast in December, but down in all the other regions. In the Midwest, December sales were down 1.2 percent, down 6.5 percent in the South, and off 6 percent in the West.

Again, when comparing annual sales from 2007 to 2006 the East was up and all the other regions were down. The East was up slightly in 2007 by 1.6 percent, while the Midwest was down 26.7 percent, the South was off 26.3 percent, and the West was down 32.2 percent.