Sales of previously owned U.S. homes climb to three-year high

Boosting Sales

The improved demand has fostered growth in renovations. Atlanta-based Home Depot, the largest home-improvement retailer in the U.S., yesterday posted first-quarter profit that topped analyst estimates. The retailer had about 337.1 million transactions in the quarter, up 2.5% from a year earlier.

At Ryland Group Inc., the builder based in West Lake Village, California, sales are up in all markets and the company reported a first-quarter profit for the first time in six years, President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Nicholson said.

“It’s tough to find any negatives really,” Nicholson said at a May 21 conference. “The industry is obviously in recovery mode. Everything is moving in a positive direction.”

Sales of newly built houses picked up to a 425,000 annualized rate, a three-month high, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists ahead of a Commerce Department report tomorrow.

Property purchases are more affordable for those who can get credit. The average fixed rate on a 30-year loan was 3.51% in the week ended May 16, down from 3.79% a year ago, according to McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac. It reached a record low of 3.31% on November.

Bloomberg News

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