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New Home Sales Rose 1.6%, but 2011 Likely Worst Ever

Americans bought slightly more new homes in November, but 2011 will likely end up as the worst year for sales in history.

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The Commerce Department said new-home sales rose 1.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000. That's less than half the 700,000 new homes that economists said should be sold to sustain a healthy housing market.

It's also below the 323,000 homes sold last year — the worst year for sales on records dating back to 1963.

New homes account for just a fraction of the housing market, but they have a big impact on the economy. Each new home built creates roughly three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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