Existing home sales rose to 4.97 million in April to a three-year high, up 0.6 percent from 4.94 million the month before, according to new numbers from the National Association of Realtors.

The figure fell just below the 5 million expected by economists polled by MarketWatch. The analysts had predicted sales would rise in April following March's unseasonably cold weather, which caused a decline.

As in March, credit constraints and fewer homes than were in demand continued to stymie the sales figures.