States that once topped charts for new home sales gains are absent from this year’s list, according to new research from Housing Intelligence. While California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida are handling a flood of distressed properties, states with strong employment growth are emerging as the strongest markets in new-home sales.

Here are the top five states with the largest new home closings and the percentage of increase in volume compared from 2009 to 2010, according to Housing Intelligence:

1. Hawaii: 26 percent
2. North Dakota: 21 percent
3. Wyoming: 11 percent
4. Washington, D.C.: 10 percent
5. Delaware: 2 percent

The key -- for at least the top four states on the list -- is they boast low unemployment rates compared to the national average.

Housing Intelligence, an independent research company, says in its weekly Key Indicator Alert that “it’s certainly no surprise that states with healthier labor markets have healthier housing markets, but it underscores the vital need for better job growth elsewhere across the nation.”

Source: “Only Five States Nab Net New Home Gain,” National Mortgage News (Jan. 29, 2011) (log in required)