Sales of new single-family houses in March fell 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 511,000 from a revised pace of 519,000 in February, the Commerce Department reported Monday. New-home sales remained up 5.4% from last March, however. Analysts were expecting a sequential increase of 1.6% to a pace of 520,000.

The median price of new houses sold in March was $288,000, a drop of 9% from February. The average sales price, however, rose 4.1% from February to $356,200. In March 2015, the median price was $293,400 and the average price $352,700.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 246,000, a supply of 5.8 months at the current sales rate. The median months for sale rose to 4.1 from 3.8 in February and 3.8 in March 2015.

The headline news in the report was the sharp decline in the West, which dropped 23.6% from February to a pace of 107,000, 20% below March a year earlier. The drop was partially offset by a spike in the Midwest, which gained 18.5% to a rate of 64,000, 10.3% ahead of last year's pace. The South was up 5% to a rate of 314,000, a gain of 15.4% from last March. The Northeast was flat with February at 26,000 but up 30% year over year.

The average annual pace for new-home sales prior to the housing crash was 655,000.

Data in thousands.