Sales of previously owned homes increased 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million in July, according to the National Association of Realtors. The improvement over June’s rate of 4.37 million put existing-home sales 10.4 percent above last year’s levels. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said record-low mortgage rates and rising rents are helping to unleash pent-up demand. Still, Yun feels the market would be performing even better if not for weakness in the broader economy and labor market, increasing home prices, and shrinking inventory. The national median existing-home price for all housing types is now $187,300, 9.4 percent above a year ago. The increase marks the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year price gains and the strongest monthly improvement since January 2006. Also, one third of homes purchased in July were on the market for less than a month. More here and here.

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