US home sales jump, prices close to 2006 peak


More Amer­i­cans bought homes in May, a sign of eco­nomic strength that is push­ing up av­er­age prices.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors said Mon­day that sales of ex­ist­ing homes climbed 5.1 per­cent last month to a sea­son­ally ad­justed an­nual rate of 5.35 mil­lion. May was the third con­sec­u­tive month of the sales rate ex­ceed­ing 5 mil­lion homes, putting home-buy­ing on pace for its best year since 2007.

Solid hir­ing since 2014 and rel­a­tively low mort­gage rates have stirred up de­mand and helped gen­er­ate more first-time buy­ers, though ris­ing sales have fu­eled spik­ing prices be­cause rel­a­tively few prop­er­ties are listed for sale.

The mar­ket has just 5.1 months’ sup­ply of homes, ver­sus an av­er­age of six months in a healthy mar­ket.

Me­dian home prices climbed 7.9 per­cent over the past 12 months to $228,700, about $1,700 shy of the July 2006 peak.

Sales jumped in all four ma­jor ge­o­graphic re­gions: North­east, Mid­west, South and West. First­time buy­ers also ac­counted for a grow­ing share of sales, a sign that younger buy­ers are re­turn­ing to the mar­ket af­ter en­dur­ing an eco­nomic down­turn and slug­gish re­bound that de­layed their pur­chases.

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