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New home sales surge to 2-year high; prices rising

Low interest rates are prompting some first time home buyers to purchase sooner than they planned. One realtor says sellers are being more realistic with pricing, making it easier for buyers to get into areas that would normally be off limits. (Ju

New sales of single-family homes soared to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 in May, reaching their highest point since April 2010, according to the government.

Sales were 7.6% above April's 343,000 rate and 19.8% above the 380,000 level reached in May 2011, according to the Commerce Department. The measure had dipped 1.1% last month from March.

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The median sales price of new homes sold in May was $234,000, up nearly 2% from April and a 5.6% boost from last year.

Compared with last year, sales in all regions were up. From April, the Northeast enjoyed 36.7% more sales, but the Midwest slumped 10.6% while the West tumbled 3.5%.

The housing market has been squeezed by more demand than supply. Inventory of new homes for sale rose for the first time in more than a year to 145,000.

The new data add another layer to the ongoing debate over the status of the real estate recovery. Last week, research showed builders breaking ground on fewer homes in May but requesting the most permits in nearly four years. Home-builder confidence is still weak but home prices are turning around. Mortgage rates are at record lows.

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