Despite the best efforts of home builders to attract buyers, sales of new homes continue to fall.

New single-family home sales dropped 1.8 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. The figures are 30 percent below a year ago and 58 percent less than the July 2005 peak.

David Seiders, the National Association Home Builders chief economist, said the numbers were not surprising, but he expressed optimism that federal moves to spur consumer confidence may help sales in months to come.

“Our latest member surveys confirm that builders have seen an improvement in the number of prospective buyers who are visiting model homes, and consumer attitudes toward home buying have perked up in recent months," Seiders said. "But this hasn't yet translated into greater sales activity, and it stands to reason that additional stimulative measures - such as a temporary home buyer tax credit, FHA (Federal Housing Administration) modernization and GSE (government-sponsored enterprises) reform - could have substantial positive impacts on both the housing market and the overall economy.”

Builders have been working hard to attract would-be homeowners, NAHB President Sandy Dunn said.

"Unfortunately, buyer demand remains very weak heading into the spring home buying season,” she added.