That was up 1.6% compared with the revised October rate of 310,000 and 9.8% higher than November 2010.
The good news followed other recent positive industry reports. November sales of existing homes rose 12% year-over-year; homebuilding spiked nearly 21% compared with 12 months ago; and mortgage rates hit record lows this week.
The sales hike was in line with expectations: The forecast from Briefing.com was for a 315,000 annualized rate.
The median price for a new home was $214,100 in November. Inventory shrank to 158,000 units, a 6-month supply at the current sales rate.
New homes sales are particularly important because they have a large impact on the overall economy, said Bob Denk, senior economist with the National Association of Home Builders.
"Inventories of new homes are very low: There's nothing on the shelf, so any increase in new home sales will translate directly into new housing starts," he said. "That means putting people back to work."
Residential housing construction has been a missing link in the slow economic recovery. Denk described conditions as still slow but "generating momentum." He expects steady but modest improvement through 2112 with a more robust recovery coming in 2013.
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