The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that sales of new single-family homes jumped 2.2% from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000. That was the highest level since early 2008.
The gain, which beat expectations, provides another sign that the housing market has strengthened as spring neared an end. On Monday, the National Assn. of Realtors reported that previously owned homes last month sold at the fastest pace in nearly six years.
Real estate agents say families are looking to lock in low mortgage rates before an expected short-term rate hike later this year from the Federal Reserve.
New home sales in May rose sharply in the Northeast, while falling in both the Midwest and the South. In the West, sales jumped 13.1%.