New-home sales declined by a relatively slight 3.5 percent in April but still were 33 percent above their rate of a year ago, the Commerce Department said yesterday.

Single-family homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 862,000 in April, down from the record 893,000 rate of March but still the third-fastest pace since the government began keeping the data in 1962. The second-highest rate was 872,000 units in October 1978.

Industry officials said the April figures showed the real estate boom prompted by reduced mortgage interest rates still is under way.

April's decline came nowhere near offsetting a 20.7 percent increase in home sales from February to March. Contributing to the April dip was a 15 percent drop in new-home sales in the South, a region hard hit by declines in the energy industry due to the plunge in world oil prices.

All other regions of the country experienced increases in home sales in April, with a 0.6 percent increase in the Northeast, a 2.2 percent rise in the Midwest, and a 7.8 percent hike in the West.

The median sales price of new single-family dwellings in April was $92,000; the average sales price was $113,000.