WASHINGTON, June 24 Sales of new U.S.
single-family homes jumped to a six-year high in May, the latest
indication the housing market was starting to dig out of a
recent soft patch.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday sales surged 18.6
percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 units.
That was the highest level since May 2008, while the increase
was the biggest since January 1992.
April's sales pace was revised down to 425,000 units from a
previously reported 433,000 units.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales
rising to a 440,000-unit pace last month.
Compared to May last year, sales were up 16.9 percent,
pointing to some momentum in the new homes market. New home
sales are, however, very volatile because of the small size of
Higher mortgage rates and a surge in prices amid a dearth
of properties available for sale have weighed on the housing
market since the second half of 2013. But as mortgage rates
level off, signs of life are emerging.
A report on Monday showed sales of previously owned homes,
the largest segment of the housing market, recorded their
largest increase in more than 3-1/2 years in May.
Last month, new home sales increased in all four regions.
They hit a six-year high in the Midwest, while sales in the
South were the highest since June 2008.
The inventory of new houses on the market was unchanged at
189,000 units. At May's sales pace it would take 4.5 months to
clear the supply of houses on the market, the fewest since June
2013. That was down from 5.3 months in April.
With inventories still tight, the median price of a new home
last month increased 6.9 percent from May of last year. The pace
of appreciation, however, is slowing. That should help to
stimulate demand for houses.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)