New-home sales in April increased 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted 517,000 annual rate, the NAHB says.

Citing U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Census Bureau data, the National Association of Home Builders said sales increased 36.8 percent in the Midwest and 5.8 percent in the South.

"Sales are moving forward and our builder members are telling us they are starting to see more activity as more buyers get off the fence and enter the marketplace," said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.

Sales dropped 5.6 percent in the Northeast U.S. and 2.3 percent in the West. The inventory of new houses for sale reached 205,000 in April, representing a 4.8-month supply at the current pace, officials said.

"Following an unusually low sales report in March, today's numbers are consistent with other data we've seen recently and indicate a continuing, gradual improvement in the housing market," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe.