New home sales rose 27 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 411,000, according to the Commerce Department. The figures, up from 234,000 in February, represent the largest monthly increase in 47 years.

At the same time median sales prices fell to $214,000. While these prices were 4 percent higher than last year, they were down 3 percent from February.

Economists said the spike was most likely tied to the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers and $6,500 credit for current homeowners who move into another property.

Regionally, sales jumped 44 percent in the South, 36 percent in the Northeast, 6 percent in the West, and 3 percent in the Midwest. The existing inventory of new homes fell 2 percent in March to 228,000.