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U.S. Home Prices Increased More Than Estimated in May

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July 22 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. house prices rose more than economists estimated in May as sales demand improved following a slowdown earlier in the year.

Prices climbed 0.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from April, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said today in a report from Washington. The average economist estimate was for a 0.2 percent increase, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

More homeowners are listing their properties, giving buyers more choices. Purchases of previously owned houses rose to an eight-month high in June, the National Association of Realtors said today. The number of homes on the market climbed 6.5 percent from May.

“The current conditions are more encouraging for buyers,” Stephanie Karol, U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “As price gains moderate and wage growth and employment growth pick up, buyers will be in a better position to make a purchase.”

The FHFA’s report showed prices increased 1.1 percent from April in the Middle Atlantic area, which includes New York and New Jersey, and in the West South Central region, with states such as Texas and Louisiana. Prices fell 0.7 percent in the East South Central area, including Tennessee and Kentucky.

Nationwide, prices rose 5.5 percent in May from a year earlier. The U.S. index is 6.5 percent below its April 2007 peak and is about the same as the July 2005 level.

The FHFA index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t provide a specific price for homes.

The median price of a home sold in June was $223,300, up 4.3 percent from a year earlier, today’s report from the Realtors showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Prashant Gopal in Boston at pgopal2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net Christine Maurus

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