U.S. Economy

     (CN) – Sales of existing homes rose to their highest rate in nearly a decade in May, as consumers sought to take advantage of low mortgage rates and a positive outlook for jobs, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
     According to the association, existing homes sales last month climbed to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.53 million, the highest level since February 2007.
     Lawrence Yun, the Realtors’ chief economist, said this spring’s sustained period of ultra-low mortgage rates has certainly been a worthy incentive to buy a home, “but the primary driver in the increase in sales is more homeowners realizing the equity they’ve accumulated in recent years and finally deciding to trade-up or downsize.”
     “With first-time buyers still struggling to enter the market, repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment are making up the bulk of home purchases right now,” Yun said, adding, “Barring further deceleration in job growth that could ultimately temper demand from these repeat buyers, sales have the potential to mostly maintain their current pace through the summer.”
     Homes sold in May after just 32 days on the market, the fastest pace ever measured by the Realtors since they began tracking the figure in 2011. Homes stayed on the market on average for 40 days a year ago.
     Sales rose in the Northeast, South and West last month but fell in the Midwest where real estate is generally considered more affordable.
     The median home sales price was $239,700 in April, a 4.7 percent increase over the past 12 months.

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