New home sales hit a 7- year high

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By An­drew Khouri an­drew. khouri@ latimes. com

Amer­i­cans scooped up more new homes in May, lift­ing sales to a seven- year high.

The pos­i­tive gain pro­vides another sign that the hous­ing mar­ket strength­ened as spring neared an end. Ear­lier this week, the Na­tional Assn. of Real­tors re­ported that pre­vi­ously owned homes last month sold at the fastest pace in nearly six years.

For new homes, sales jumped 2.2% from April to a sea­son­ally ad­justed an­nual rate of 546,000, the Com­merce Depart­ment said Tues­day. That was the high­est level since early 2008 and was higher than an­a­lysts had ex­pected.

Part of the re­cent im­prove­ment in the hous­ing mar­ket is a sense of ur­gency among would- be buy­ers, real es­tate agents say. Fam­i­lies are look­ing to lock in low mort­gage rates be­fore an ex­pected short- term rate in­crease later this year by the Fed­eral Re­serve.

The new home fig­ures are no­to­ri­ously volatile be­cause of a small sam­ple size. But IHS Global In­sight econ­o­mists noted that the Com­merce Depart­ment re­vised sales up by 34,000 over the last three months and that a mov­ing av­er­age also hit a seven- year high.

Moody’s home- build­ing an­a­lyst Ti­ina Si­il­aberg char­ac­ter­ized the im­prove­ment from April as “slight.”

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