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Home re-sales highest since '09

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 7:27 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Sales of previously occupied homes surpassed the 5 million mark in May — the first time in 3½ years.

The gain shows that the housing recovery is strengthening.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that home re-sales rose 4.2 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18 million, up from the April's 4.97 million.

Sales last exceeded 5 million in November 2009. During that month and October 2009, a home-buying tax credit briefly inflated the sales pace. Prior to that, sales had not been above 5 million since July 2007.

Although the sales pace is still below the 5.5 million considered consistent with healthy markets, it has risen nearly 13 percent in the past 12 months.

With a tight supply of homes on the market, the median sales price rose to $208,000 — the highest since July 2008.

“Housing is now the strongest part of the economy in growth terms,” said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

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