Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show new home sales in November increased 5.2 percent from the month before. The improvement exceeded economists’ expectations and pushed sales 16.5 percent above last year’s level. Analysts believe the recent spike in sales of both new and existing homes may be due to the fact that mortgage rates have been rising over the past few weeks. Home buyers who may have otherwise waited until spring to buy a house may be shopping for a home this winter in hopes of locking in a lower mortgage rate. Whatever their motivation, though, new home buyers weren’t equally represented across the country. In fact, regional results show sales flat in the Northeast and down 3.1 percent in the South. On the other hand, new home sales were up 7.7 percent in the West and surged 43.8 percent in the Midwest. Also in the report, the number of new homes for sale rose 1.6 percent to the highest level since 2009. This is good news for prospective buyers, as an increasing number of new homes for sale could begin to relieve upward pressure on home prices, which would help counteract the impact higher mortgage rates have on affordability. More here.