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US home sales continue rise

WASHINGTON, Jul 23 – Sales of existing homes in the United States rose for the third consecutive month in June, suggesting that the troubled housing market may be hitting bottom, private data showed Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said existing home sales rose to an annualized rate of 4.89 million units in June, up 3.6 percent from May.

Sales were brisker than the average analyst forecast of a 4.83 million pace.

In May, sales of existing homes — by far the largest segment of the US housing market — had climbed in the first back-to-back monthly increase since 2005.

The June sales number appeared to confirm the stabilization, down a mere 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

"The increase in existing home sales occurred in all major regions of the country," said Lawrence Yun, the association\’s chief economist.

"We expect a gradual uptrend in sales to continue due to tax credit incentives and historically high affordability conditions."

The NAR said total housing inventory at the end of June slipped 0.7 percent from the preceding month, to 3.82 million homes available for sale.

That represents a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 9.8-month supply in May.

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Prices also showed signs of stabilizing. The median price of existing home sales was 181,600 in June, 15 percent lower than a year ago but up from 174,700 in May.

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