Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 9.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units last month from an upwardly revised pace of 427,000 units in December.
Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau show that it was the strongest sales pace since July of 2008.
"The fact that the cold weather that hit much of the country didn't stop home buyers from going out and purchasing a piece of the American dream is a great sign," said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Wilmington, Del.
"However, the very low supply of new homes on the market and the continued concern of available buildable lots still have builders cautious about getting ahead of themselves," he added.
"We saw a weaker sales number in December 2013 than was previously trending, and I think much of January's increase is due to sales catching up with pent up demand," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Still, there is little doubt that historically low interest rates, affordable home prices and a healing economy are bringing buyers back into the marketplace."
Regionally, new-home sales were generally strong with three of the four regions posting large gains. The South, the West and the Northeast showed improvement, with respective increases of 10.4%, 11.0% and 73.7%. New-home sales in the Midwest fell by 17.2%.
The inventory of new homes for sale remained steady at 184,000 units in January, which is a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace.