The housing sector is lifting off, as existing home sales jumped 5.1 percent in May to a 5.35 million annual rate. The year-on-year rate tells the story, at plus 9.2 percent which, outside of March’s 11.9 percent, is the strongest rate in nearly two years. And prices are rising, up 7.9 percent year-on-year at a median $228,700.
In a special sign of strength, sales are strongest for single-family homes, up 5.6 percent in the month to 4.73 million. Year-on-year, single-family sales are up 9.7 percent. Condo sales have been flat in recent reports, up 1.6 percent in May to a 620,000 rate for a year-on-year gain of 5.1 percent. And in yet another special strength, first-time buyers are back in the market, making up 32 percent of all sales vs 27 percent this time last year.
Gains sweep the regional data with the Midwest up 4.1 percent and the West and South up 4.3 percent each. The Northeast rose an outsized 11.3 percent in the month which is also the region’s year-on-year rate. Year-on-year, the Midwest is the strongest at 12.4 percent with the West at 9.0 percent and the South up 6.9 percent.
Holding down sales has been a lack of supply which, relative to sales, is at 5.1 month vs 5.2 in April. In another sign of tightness, the median sales time held steady at 40 days. But the rising sales rate together with the rise in prices are certain to bring new homes to the market. And homes are coming onto the market, to 2.29 million vs 2.20 and 2.01 in the prior two readings.