Sales of new single-family homes flew through the roof for May, jumping 18.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today.

On top of last month's unexpectedly strong 425,000 rate, this latest report served up another surprise for analysts, who had expected a rate of just 441,000 for May. The U.S. hasn't seen new-home sales this high since May 2008.

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Source: Census.gov 

On a regional level, everywhere except the Midwest experienced strong month-to-month gains. Northeast sales soared 54.5%, followed by the West's 34%, a 14.2% rise in the South, and just a 1.4% bump in the Midwest. In the past 12 months, national sales of new homes are up a similarly strong 16.9%.

At the current rate of sales, there is an estimated 4.5 months of supply, compared with 5.3 months in April. As supplies fell for May, median prices increased, up $12,300 to $282,000. 

This latest report mirrors a National Association of Realtors report released yesterday, which pointed to strong 4.9% sales growth for existing homes in May. A home price report released earlier today provided further evidence of slowing home price growth in April, painting a clearer picture of May's runaway sales numbers.

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