Sales of U.S. previously owned homes rose in May to the highest level in six months as buyers rushed to beat a June tax-credit deadline, economists said before a report today.
Credit-induced gyrations will make the underlying health of the market difficult to determine over the next couple of months. A slump in builder shares since early May signals investors are concerned the damage caused by the end of government stimulus, mounting foreclosures and unemployment will exceed the benefits of lower mortgage rates.
“There are still a lot of headwinds as we’re making this important transition,” Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida. “The real key in all this will be the labor market. You’re not going to see a sustainable housing recovery without job growth.”
The report from the National Association of Realtors is due at 10 a.m. in Washington. Economists’ estimates ranged from 5.2 million to 6.5 million after a 5.77 million rate in April.
Demand last exceeded May’s projected level in November, the month the tax break was first due to expire, when sales reached an almost three-year high 6.49 million pace. The smaller jump last month shows the incentive lost power after being extended.