Sales of new single-family houses shot up at the tail of the spring buying season, shrinking the months’ supply of new homes on the market, data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

New-home sales jumped 18.6 percent from April to May, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000. That’s a 16.9 percent increase in the pace of sales from the same time a year ago.

On the one hand, the pace of new-home sales in May was the strongest in six years, noted Bill McBride, author of the blog Calculated Risk. On the other hand, sales were still only slightly better than the bottoms seen during previous recessions.

New_home_sales_May_2014_calculated_risk

Source: CalculatedRiskBlog.com.

The number of new homes for sale stayed flat from April to May, at 189,000, but that’s up 16.7 percent from last year. At the current pace of sales, the supply of new homes on the market today would sell in 4.5 months, down from 5.3 months in April.

The median sales price of new houses sold in May clocked in at $282,000, up from $269,700 in April.

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