Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 16.6 percent in April, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The gain was the largest month-over-month increase since 1992 and puts new home sales nearly 24 percent higher than they were last year at this time. Combined with rising housing starts, building permits, and sales of previously owned homes, the improvement is another sign that the housing market and economy are gaining strength. And, though economists expected new home sales to increase in April, the actual numbers far exceeded their predictions. In fact, economists polled by Reuters forecast sales rising to a 523,000 unit-rate, while the official estimate came in at 619,000. Regionally, the South, West, and Northeast saw dramatic double-digit increases over the previous month. The Midwest, on the other hand, experienced a 4.8 percent drop in sales. The report also included news that the median price for a new home set a new record at $321,100, up 9.7 percent from last year. More here.