This Jan. 8, 2015 photo shows a home for sale in Charlotte, N.C. The National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes in January on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Lucia Mutikani, REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. home resales surged to a 5-1/2-year high in May as first-time buyers stepped into the market, the latest indication that housing and overall economic activity were gathering steam in the second quarter.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday existing home sales increased 5.1 percent to an annual rate of 5.35 million units, the highest level since November 2009.

That left sales this year on track for their strongest performance since 2007.

“It suggests that the U.S. housing market recovery is back on track after the missteps earlier this year. We expect this upbeat tone in the housing recovery to continue as the favorable domestic fundamentals begin to reassert themselves,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.

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