The gain, although small, makes builders hopeful, officials with the National Association of Home Builders said. 

The sale of newly built single-family homes increased 5.5 percent in November 2010, the U.S. Commerce Department said last month.

The gain, although small, makes builders hopeful, officials with the NAHB said.

"While builders continue to face a great deal of competition from short-sale and foreclosure properties, the improvement registered in new-home sales in November is a good sign," said Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "With consumer interest in new homes expected to continue to revive as the economy and job markets improve, and inventories of new homes for sale near record lows, our concern now is that a lack of construction financing will keep builders from being able to expand the selection of what they have to offer buyers heading into the spring." 

The gains were credited to the Southern U.S., which saw a 5.8 percent jump, and the West, where sales surged 37.3 percent. Sales declined in the Midwest and Northeast, officials said.

"Builders in our latest surveys have indicated that they are starting to see more buyers who are seriously considering a new-home purchase, and today's numbers showing that sales headed in the right direction in November bode well for what the future may hold," said David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist. "The extremely low inventory of new homes on the market is also a positive sign that builders have been exercising tremendous caution with regard to new construction activity. That said, unless builders' access to financing for new development improves, many will not have a product to sell when the opportunity arises, which in turn would slow a market recovery as well as potential job generation from new home building."