The number of new homes sold last year was 12.2 percent higher than it was the year before, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The numbers show an estimated 563,000 new homes were sold in 2016, compared to 501,000 one year earlier. Still, much like the recently released existing-home sales data, the report also shows sales slowing at the end of the year. In fact, December sales fell 10.4 percent from November’s estimate. That is likely due to a number of factors, however – including the holiday season, rising mortgage rates at the end of the year, and the natural volatility of month-over-month sales numbers. Despite the December drop, sales still managed to have their best year since 2007 and, with builders recently expressing renewed confidence in the market, this year could see yet another improvement. Also in the report, the median price of a new house sold in December was $322,500; the average sales price was $384,000. Regionally speaking, sales were up in the Northeast but down in the Midwest, South, and West. More here.