U.S. home and condo resales inched higher in May as prices continued to fall, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday.
Resales of U.S. houses and condos rose 2% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.99 million in May from 4.89 million in April. It’s the highest sales pace since February.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected sales to rise to 5 million.
Resales have sunk 15.9% in the past year and are down 31% from the peak in 2005. The pace of sales has been relatively stable since August at around a 5 million annual pace.
Inventories of unsold homes on the market fell 1.4% to 4.49 million, a 10.8-month supply at the May sales pace. The inventory figures are not seasonally adjusted. Inventories are up 2.4% in the past year.
The median sales price in May was $208,600, down 6.3% compared with a year ago.
“It’d be premature to say the improvement marks a turnaround,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the real estate group, which continues to advocate for congressional action to boost home buying, including a first-time buyer tax credit and higher loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. rose in May from a record low, signaling depressed prices lured some buyers into the market.
Resales increased 2 percent to a 4.99 million annual rate, higher than forecast, from a 4.89 million pace in April, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median price dropped 6.3 percent from May last year.
A drop in property values may have spurred demand in some of the most distressed areas, such as California and the Midwest. Even so, rising mortgage rates, a glut of unsold homes, and stricter borrowing rules indicate the real estate recession will persist for most of the year.
“There’s going to be a little more adjustment until we can say the worst is over,” Michael Gregory, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, said before the report. “If you don’t have the confidence of a job and banks are reluctant to lend money,” housing will stay weak.
Economists forecast home resales would rise to a 4.95 million pace, according to the median of 72 projections in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from 4.75 million to 5.15 million.
April’s matched a record low for existing home sales.
Compared with a year earlier, sales were down 16 percent in May.