Existing-home sales in May hit their highest level since November 2009 when a tax stimulus was fueling sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.

May’s seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 5.18 million units was up 12.9 percent from 4.59 million units in May 2012 and up 4.2 percent from 4.97 million units in April, NAR reported.

“The housing numbers are overwhelmingly positive. However, the number of available homes is unlikely to grow, despite a nice gain in May, unless new-home construction ramps up quickly by an additional 50 percent,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new homebuilding can moderate future price growth.”

Meanwhile, listed housing inventory rose 3.3 percent to 2.2 million existing homes in May, representing a 5.1-month supply of homes at the current rate of home sales, NAR said. That’s down from 5.2 months in April.

Inventory was 10.1 percent below a year ago, when there was a 6.5-month supply, NAR said.

The inventory shortage is sparking bidding wars, and homes are selling like hotcakes in some markets.

The median time on market for all homes was 41 days in May, the shortest since monthly tracking began in May 2011. That’s down from 46 days in April and 72 days a year ago, NAR said.

Another way to look at the data: Homes are selling a whopping 43 percent faster than they were last year.

Is your market starved for inventory? 

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription