WASHINGTON — Sales of new homes dropped sharply last month to the slowest pace on record, the latest sign that the economic recovery is fading.

The Commerce Department says new home sales fell 12.4 percent in July from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 276,600. That was the slowest pace on records dating back to 1963.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a pace of 330,000.

June’s sales figures were revised downward to an annual pace of 315,000. May’s figures were revised upward and are now the second-slowest pace on record.

The median sales price in July was $204,000. That was down 4.8 percent from a year earlier and down 6 percent from June.