Despite the availability of a tax credit for first-time buyers, sales of new homes fell 3.6% in September and were 7.8% below the level of September 2008, the Commerce and Housing and Urban Affairs Departments reported today.

September's sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 402,000, compared with 417,000 last month and 436,000 in September 2008.

It was the second consecutive piece of mixed housing data. Last week, the National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales increased in September.

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