The Housing Industry Association (HIA) said the number of new home sales climbed 6% at the end of last year to 7,526 dwellings. Sales of detached homes surged 9.5% after dropping 7.5% in November. In sharp contrast, sales of apartments plunged 12.6% to its lowest level in 11 months after rising 8.8% in the previous month. New home sales jumped 24.4% in Victoria, WA were up 14.2% while Sydney gained 4.6% in December. HIA's chief economist Harley Dale said while it was good to see a positive end to 2006, overall sales for the year were down 11% compared to 2005. "It's encouraging to have seen stabilisation in new home sales over the second half of last year, but it's going to be a long road back to a sustained recovery for new housing," he said. "Subject to interest rates being kept on hold that housing recovery won't gather legs until the second half of 2007." HIA's New Home Sales Survey is compiled from a sample of the largest 100 residential builders in Australia and is considered a leading indicator of new housing activity.

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