WASHINGTON — Sales of new single-family houses rose 2.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 476,000 in May, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The accelerated sales pace followed a revised rate of 466,000 in April, originally reported as 454,000.

The May rate was beyond that projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who foresaw a 463,000 unit pace. The sales rate was 29% above the May 2012 estimate of 369,000.

Regional figures were primarily quite strong. Sales rose 20.7% in the Northeast, 40.7% in the Midwest, and 3.6% in the West. The South region, coming off two consecutive months of double-digit growth, experienced a 9% sales rate dip in May.

The median sales price of new houses fell to $263,900 in May, 3.2% below the revised April median price of $272,600. On a year-over-year basis, the median price climbed 10.3% above $239,200 in May 2012.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of May was 161,000, an increase from April's revised supply of 157,000 and the most since 162,000 reported in August 2011. The May figure represents a supply of 4.1 months at the current sales rate.

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