The Commerce Department said that sales of newly built homes in the U.S. increased 1.3 percent in November from the prior month. As a lagging indicator of real estate market demand, new home sales are monitored carefully by investors.

New single-family houses sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 719,000 last month, the Commerce Department said Monday (pdf). This represents a growth of 9.8 percent so far this year.

The Department said that the figures show a 1.3 percent growth above the revised October rate of 710,000 and 16.9 percent above the November 2018 estimate of 615,000. Revisions to new single-family houses sold estimates happen mostly because imputed data is replaced with reported data in subsequent months. Many homes have a sales contract signed before a permit is issued and an estimate is made for these sales ahead of permit authorization.

The Commerce Department said the median sales price of new houses sold in November 2019 was $330,800, which is up 7.3 percent from a year ago. The average sales price was $388,200.

The increase reflects a steady decline in mortgage rates, which has made borrowing cheaper and brought more people seeking to upgrade their house into the market.

The typical 30-year mortgage rate has fallen from roughly 4.9 percent a year ago to 3.8 percent this November.