WASHINGTON — Sales of previously occupied homes surpassed the 5 million mark in May, the first time that has happened in 3½ years.
Steady hiring and low mortgage rates have helped to boost home sales.
However, mortgage rates have been rising in recent weeks as the Federal Reserve has sent signals that it may start trimming back its level of bond purchases that have sought to keep long-term rates such as mortgages low as a way to boost the economy.
The average rate on 30-year fixed loans rose to 4.46 percent last week, according to a survey by Freddie Mac. That's the highest average in two years and a full point more than a month ago. The rate rose from 3.93 percent, marking the biggest one-week jump in 26 years.
While higher rates could dampen home building, builders say they don't believe rates at current levels will depress sales significantly. Some builders believe sales could be spurred in the near term as potential buyers rush to lock in mortgages before rates rise further.