Existing home sales rise in August, prices up from year ago

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The pace of home resales rose in August to its fastest in over two years and the price for sold homes climbed from a year earlier, hopeful signs that a budding housing market recovery is gaining traction.

 Photo: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters In English
A U.S. flag decorates a for-sale sign at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, August 21, 2012.
Photo: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters In English

The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday that existing home sales increased 7.8 percent last month to an annual rate of 4.82 million units last month.

That was the fastest annual rate since May 2010 and well above analysts' expectations of a 4.55 million-unit rate.

Nationwide, the median price for a home resale rose to $187,400 in August, up 9.5 percent from a year earlier as fewer people sold their homes under distressed conditions.

The nation's inventory of homes - those for sale on the market - rose 2.9 percent during the month to 2.47 million.

"The housing market recovery is becoming much more convincing," said NAR economist Lawrence Yun.

The price increase is measured against August 2011, and since then distressed sales have fallen to 22 percent of total sales from 31 percent. Distressed sales also fell in August of this year compared to the prior month.

While the broader U.S. economy appears to be losing steam, housing has gained traction and has become a relative bright spot.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

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