Existing-home sales rose 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million units in July from an upwardly revised pace of 5.10 million units in June. Last month's sales activity was 0.6 percent above the 5.30-million unit pace in July 2001.
David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said low interest rates are boosting the housing market.
NAR projects 5.44 million existing-home sales in 2002, up 2.7 percent from last year's record. It also expects a record of 920,000 new-home sales this year, up 1.2 percent from 2001.
Housing inventory levels at the end of July dropped 9.3 percent from June to a total of 2.05 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace; inventories are 2.0 percent higher than July 2001.
Regionally, existing homes in the Midwest were selling at an annual rate of 1.19 million units in July, up 10.2 percent from June; the pace was 2.6 percent higher than July 2001. The median price in the Midwest was $141,200, up 2.6 percent from a year ago.
The existing-home sales pace in the South rose 6.4 percent in July to an annual rate of 2.17 million units, and were 2.4 percent above a year ago. The median price of an existing home in the South was $153,100, which was 9.3 percent higher than July 2001.
Existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 4.9 percent in July to a pace of 640,000 units; the sales rate was 3.0 percent below July 2001. The median existing-home price in the Northeast was $165,700, up 8.1 percent from a year ago.
Home resales in the West slipped 2.9 percent in July to an annual rate of 1.33 million units, and were 2.9 percent lower than a year earlier. The median existing-home price in the West was $213,200, up 11.7 percent from July 2001.