Charlotte-area home sales jumped 19 percent in May over the same period the year before, another sign of life in a long-struggling market.

More than 2,600 houses, townhomes and condominiums in the region sold in May, compared to about 2,200 closings in May 2011, according to the report released today from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.

Prices rose, too. The average selling price in May was $217,561, up 4 percent from the same period last year. The median sales price, $165,000, climbed almost 9 percent from May 2011. Charlotte-area buyers paid an average of 92 percent of the listing price last month, the highest since 2008, according to the Carolina Multiple Listing Services data.

Meanwhile, pending sales one of the best gauges of current housing activity rose more than 26 percent over the year before. And the region s inventory of available homes continued its downward trend, falling 19 percent from May 2011, the data show.

Local agents and real estate experts reported a turnaround this spring after four years of sluggishness. Yet some hurdles remain: Selling prices are still off from their pre-recession levels, and thousands of distressed homes are still sitting on the sidelines, owned by banks or held up in the foreclosure process.

About 14 percent of new listings in the Charlotte area last month were distressed homes, though that was down from 16 percent the year before, the Realtor association report shows.

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