Sales of previously owned homes rose more than expected in April to a five month high, reflecting a last minute dash by buyers to close contracts before the expiry of a homebuyer tax credit, an industry group said on Monday.

The National Association of Realtors said sales rose 7.6 percent month-over-month to an annual rate of 5.77 million units, the highest since November, from a slightly upwardly revised 5.36 million-unit pace in March.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected April sales to increase 5.6 percent to a 5.65 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.35 million units in March. Sales were up 22.8 percent in the 12 months to April.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)