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Existing-home sales rebound in May

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WASHINGTON (6/24/14)--Existing-home sales bounced back in May, jumping 4.9% from April to 4.89 million annualized units sold. The surge surpassed expectations and is the strongest month-over-month gain since August 2011 ( June 23).

Despite the jump, however, sales still fall 5% behind levels seen in May of last year.

Signals of an improving housing market are materializing, said Moody's analyst Eric Tannenbaum ( ), but the pace remains below the more than 5-million unit pace seen in May 2013.

Single-family home sales paved the way for the month with a 5.7% increase, with sales activity especially fervent in the Midwest. The pace of sales of condos/co-ops did not change.

Meanwhile, the number of homes for sale climbed 6% year-over-year, which has slightly slowed home-price appreciation. Home prices rose 5.1% year-over-year in May, compared with the 12% climb between May of 2012 and 2013.

But prices are still rising as sales outpaced inventory expansion, keeping the market tighter.

Distressed home sales are becoming less and less of a factor in determining home prices as well, as the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of distressed homes dropped to 11% from 18% year-over-year in May.