Sales of existing homes dipped 1.5 percent in May from April but are up substantially from a year ago, along with property prices, said the National Association of REALTORS®.
Last month, resales slipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.55 million from 4.62 million in April but were up 9.6 percent from May 2011, according to the report.
The median price soared 7.9 percent to $182,600 from a year ago, marking the third year-over-year gain in a row — the first time that’s happened since 2006. Analysts from Credit Suisse called the firming prices, now at the highest level since June 2010, “the silver lining” of the report.
Sales of single-family homes were 1 percent lower than April but 10.4 percent higher than last May. The price for such properties spiked 7.7 percent from 2011 to $182,900.
The report, which also factors in town homes, condominiums and co-ops, blamed the dip from April on tight supply of properties, rather than softening demand. The inventory of listed homes for sale is 20.4 percent smaller than a year ago, according to the Realtors association.
Mortgage rates are again at record lows; building permits are at more than a three-year high and single-family housing starts are increasing.
Heavily discounted foreclosures and short sales make up a substantial but shrinking portion of home buys — 25 percent in May from 31 percent a year earlier. First-time buyers, however, make up a third of the pool, a smaller portion than before.
“The recovery is occurring despite excessively tight credit conditions and higher down payment requirements, which are negating the impact of record high affordability conditions,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the trade group, said in a statement.
The same trends, he said, are represented in the western part of the country, where sales are down 3.4 percent from April but up 3.6 percent from 2011. Realtors there have been on the hunt for more distressed properties because there are more buyers than homes available, Yun said.
Expensive properties have been driving sales in the region, where the median price is $233,900, up 3.6 percent from a year earlier.