In 2011, there was an estimated 306,000 new home sold. In 2012, sales came to 367,000, a 19.9 percent increase, the department said.
Sales in December declined from November, off 7.3 percent.
After rising in November, sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 from 398,000 in November, a rate revised sharply upward from 377,000, the number released last month.
Sales also remained ahead of the same month a year earlier. In December 2011, the annual sales rate was estimated at 339,000.
The Commerce Department said the average price for a new home sold in November was $248,900, down from $299,700 in November.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of how many new homes were on the market at the end of the month was 151,000, which represents a 4.9-month supply at the current rate of sales.