Sales of previously owned U.S. homes posted the best monthly gain in nearly three years in May, the National Association of Realtors said Monday, providing hope that housing is beginning to regain momentum lost over the past year.
The association reported that sales of existing homes increased 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million homes. The monthly gain was the fastest since August 2011, but even with the increase, sales are still 5 percent below the pace in May 2013.
Sales have been dampened by last year’s rise in mortgage rates from historic lows and various other factors including tight supplies and tougher lending standards.
The median price of a home sold in May was $213,400, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.
The pace of home sales is below the 5.1 million homes sold in 2013 and off the pace of 5.5 million annual sales that would be consistent with a healthy housing market.
Average rates for 30-year fixed mortgages declined to 4.17 percent last week, down from 4.20 percent the previous week. Mortgage rates are about a quarter of a percentage point higher than they were at the same time last year.