Published: Jan 26, 2011 7:43 PM EST
Updated: Jan 26, 2011 4:43 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - Buyers purchased the fewest new homes last year on records going back 47 years.

The Commerce Department says 2010 sales totaled 321,000, down 14 percent from 2009.

It was the fifth consecutive year that sales have declined after hitting record highs for the five previous years when the housing market was booming.

The year ended on a stronger note. Buyers purchased new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 329,000 units in December, up nearly 18 percent from November.