) -- Following earlier signals that a recovery in housing could well be in progress, the National Association of Realtors said Friday that existing-home sales grew for the fourth month in a row.
The industry group said home sales jumped by a surprising 7.2% in July to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.24 million units, the highest level in two years and the biggest monthly sales increase since record-keeping began a decade ago. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected the group to show a mere 2.2% jump.
The surge came after the group reported a 3.6% rise to 4.89 million units in the prior month.
"The housing market has decisively turned for the better," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.
"Because price-to-income ratios have fallen below historical trends, there are more all-cash offers. In some recovering markets like San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Orlando, the demand for foreclosed and lower priced homes has spiked, and a lack of inventory is becoming a common complaint," Yun later added.
The median home price in July was $178,400, down 15% from July of last year, while total housing inventory grew by 7.3% in July.
Housing stocks gained ground Friday after the announcement. Shares of
were rising 3.3%, 4.3% and 3.5% each.
was trading at $12.76, adding 37 cents, and
was changing hands at $23.40, up $1.24.
advanced as well, up 1.9% and 2.3%, respectively.
-- Reported by Sung Moss in New York
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