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.