The number of new, single-family homes sold in November fell 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 909,000 from 929,000 in October, the Commerce Department said.
The figure was below estimates from analysts polled by Reuters, who had figured sales totaled an annual 913,000 in November.
Although the U.S. housing market has softened along with the rest of the economy, home sales have remained near record levels, bolstered by a steady decline in mortgage rates beginning in mid-2000.
Sales of new, single-family homes in November were up 1.6 percent from the same time last year, Commerce said.
The supply of available new, single-family homes reached 4.2 months' worth at the current sales pace, up from 4.1 months' worth in October.
The median price of new, single-family homes fell for the first time since the summer, dropping slightly to $169,900 in November after reaching $170,000 in October. The median price a year ago was $172,900.
Sales of new, single-family homes dropped across the country except in the South, the largest housing market, where sales rose 3.5 percent in November. New home sales plummeted 20 percent in the Northeast. Sales dropped 7.6 percent in the Midwest and fell 3.3 percent in the West.
The Commerce report contrasted with data released last week by the National Association of Realtors, which showed that sales of previously owned U.S. homes -- a much larger portion of the housing market -- picked up in November. NAR said existing home sales rose 4.4 percent in November to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.22 million units from 5 million units in October.