Home sales see another strong uptick

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Sales of new single-family houses rose 9.6 percent in July and, for the first time in five years, existing home sales have increased for four months in a row.

Sales of new one-family houses in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000, from an upwardly revised June rate of 395,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in July  was $210,100; the average sales price was $269,200. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 271,000. This represents a supply of 7.5 months at the current sales rate.

Existing-home sales, including single-family, town homes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.24 million units in July from a level of 4.89 million in June, and are 5 percent above the 4.99 million-unit pace in July 2008. The last time sales rose for four consecutive months was in June 2004 and the last time sales were higher than a year earlier was November 2005.

"The housing market has decisively turned for the better," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors in an Aug. 21 news release. "A combination of first-time buyers taking advantage of the housing stimulus tax credit and greatly improved affordability conditions is contributing to higher sales."

— Brian Caldwell

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