The 468,000 new single-family home sales in January was a nearly 10 percent increase over December's relatively weak reading, and better than last year's comparable number.
The last time there were more than 450,000 new home sales in a month was in July 2008, according to the Census Bureau.
Nevertheless, sales remain well below pre-crisis highs and normally healthy levels. New home sales peaked near 1.4 million in 2005, during the height of the housing bubble.
One caveat about the good news regarding new home sales is that the government's estimate is subject to a large margin of error.