Sales of existing homes in the United States were up in May and remain well above one year ago, even as the median price for existing home prices continued rising by double-digit rates, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Total existing-home sales, which includes single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, rose in May 4.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18 million from 4.97 million in April. May 2013 is up 12.9% from the May 2012's 4.59 million-unit pace.
May 2013 existing-home sales were at the highest level since November 2009, when buyers took advantage of a tax stimulus program to push the market to 5.44 million.
Sales of existing homes have been above year-ago levels for 23 months. The U.S. median price has shown 15 consecutive months of year-over-year increases; this has not happened since the period between March 2005 and May 2006.
Total housing inventory at the end of May 2013 was up 3.3%, making 2.22 million existing homes available for sale. This is a 5.1-month supply at the current pace of sales. This is down from a April's 5.2-month supply.
The listed inventory was 10.1% below the previous year's 6.5-month supply.
NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, CA, said market conditions as of May 2013 are vastly different than during the housing boom. "The boom period was marked by easy credit and overbuilding, but today we have tight mortgage credit and widespread shortages of homes for sale," he said.
"The housing numbers are overwhelmingly positive," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "However, the number of available homes is unlikely to grow, despite a nice gain in May, unless new home construction ramps up quickly by an additional 50%."
Yun said the recovery is strengthening and he expects limited housing supplies for the balance of 2013 in much of the country.
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