What You Need to Know about May Housing Numbers

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What You Need to Know about May Housing Numbers

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This market is just right: highlights from the latest housing report from the National Association of Realtors.

Fine spring weather after a long, hard winter boosted the housing market in May as sales of existing homes hit a six year high, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Homes sold at an annual rate of 5.35 million during the month, up more than 9% from 12 months earlier.

“Solid sales gains were seen throughout the country in May as more homeowners listed their homes for sale and therefore provided greater choices for buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

The housing market seems to be approaching a Goldilocks moment: not too hot, not too cold. It’s getting just right.

Jonathan Miller, an appraiser with New York based Miller Samuel, said the percentage of underwater owners (those with mortgage debt higher than their home values) dropped to 10% from more than 20% during the foreclosure crisis. That has freed up owners to sell. They can now at least break even on the deals. He forecasts incremental but steady growth in home sales and prices as employment gets gradually better and mortgage rates inch slowly upward.

A big part of the sales improvement came from a jump in first-time homebuyers, according to NAR. They accounted for 32% of sales, up from 27% a year earlier and the highest level since September 2012.

Among these first-timers are a lot of young people whose employment prospects have improved, allowing them to set up their own homes, according to Miller.

“We’re even seeing a little bit of wage growth and a smidgeon of household formation,” he said.

The national median home price hit $228,700 in May, up 7.9% from May 2014. The West was again the most expensive region. Homes there sold for a median of $324,000. Sales grew 4.3% in May compared with 12 months ago.

LittletonNH

For a glimpse at what’s out there, check out this­stunning Littleton, N.H. stone and log home­(pictured above), where $895,000 gets you three bedrooms, three bathrooms and breathtaking views of the Presidential Mountain Range.

Born and raised in Whitestone, N.Y., and never having lived outside of NYC, Les is a graduate of City College of New York in Manhattan. Les switched careers in his late 30s, studying writing at New School and Brooklyn Polytechnic, now the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. Les has written for several magazines and copyedited books on early childhood education prior to joining CNNMoney as a personal finance writer, where his main beat was real estate. His wife and partner of 42 years is a retired magazine editor who spent her career at the New York Zoological Society (Bronx Zoo). They are residents of the Upper West Side.

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