(Stock prices updated.)
WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- The housing market received two pieces of good news on Wednesday: median home prices grew in the second quarter and luxury home builder Toll Brothers (TOL - Get Report) saw an increase in signed contracts.
The news sent shares of homebuilders rallying in morning trading.
The National Association of Realtors said median U.S. home prices grew 4% in the second quarter to $174,100, and were up in 26 of the 155 metropolitan areas the group tracks.But the median sale price was still 16% below last year's levels, and down in 129 of the metropolitan areas compared with last year. Total sales rose to 4.76 million from 4.58 million, but were still about 3% below last year. Separately, Toll Brothers said homebuyers who have signed contracts in the third quarter grew by 3%, its first year-over-year increase in four years. Signed contracts soared 44% compared with the second quarter and only 9% of buyers backed out, the lowest cancellation rate in three years. The company said it sold 792 homes, resulting in $461.3 million in revenue. Nonetheless, revenue was still down 42% due to declining home prices and fewer communities around the country. "Although some of our markets are still stuck in the mud, many are improving," CEO Robert Toll said in a statement. The company will release its final quarterly results on Aug. 27. Shares of Toll Brothers jumped 14% to close at $23.42, Pulte Homes (PHM - Get Report) jumped 4% to $12.86, Centex (CTX) grew 5% to end at $12.56, KB Home (KBH - Get Report) increased 3% to $18.28 and Lennar (LEN - Get Report) rose 4% to $13.52. -- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.