US home price gains slow; new home sales pick up

NEW YORK (AFP) - US home price gains slowed to a more sustainable pace in May as more properties, including newly built homes, hit the market, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported Tuesday.

S&P's Case-Shiller index for home prices in the 20 top cities fell 0.1 per cent from April and was up 5.2 per cent from a year ago, slower than the 5.4 per cent pace the previous month.

The strongest markets continued to be the northwest hubs Seattle and Portland, as well as Denver, Colorado.

Previously hot markets New York and Washington, DC have slowed as buyers resist higher prices.

"Overall, housing is doing quite well. In addition to strong prices, sales of existing homes reached the highest monthly level since 2007 as construction of new homes showed continuing gains," said David Blitzer of S&P Dow Jones Indices in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that new home sales across the US accelerated in June to the fastest pace in eight years.

June sales rose 3.5 percent from May to an annual rate of 592,000 units.

"Much stronger than expected, with no sign of any loss of upward momentum," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.