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Real estate sales rise 19.2% in May

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Closings for existing-home sales were up 19.2 percent year-over-year in May -- a robust rate of activity the National Association of Realtors attributed to the federal homebuyer tax credit program. "We are witnessing the ongoing effects of the homebuyer tax credit, which we'll also see in June real estate closings," said Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, in a statement. Closed sales transactions of existing single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million units last month, down 2.2 percent from April's upwardly revised 5.79 million units, the report said. The association expects sales to decline after the homebuyer tax credits' scheduled closing deadline at the end of June -- though legislation is in the works that seeks to extend the closing deadline through September. "Job growth and a manageable level of foreclosures are keys to sales and price performance during the second half ...