US new-home sales tumbled in May after a surge in April

Americans pulled back from buying new homes in May, reversing strong gains made in April as sales fell sharply in the Northeast and West.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales declined 6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 551,000, off from a downwardly revised 586,000 in April. Still, sales are 6.4 percent higher year-to-date. Job growth and ultra-low mortgage rates have helped drive this increase.

New-home sales have rebounded from the depths of the housing bust, yet builders have focused on the upper echelon of buyers. The shift to the luxury market means that fewer new homes are being built, but the new homes are selling at markedly higher prices.

May's median sales price rose 1 percent from a year ago to $290,400.