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Washington (AFP) — Sales of existing U.S. homes rose in July to their fastest pace in almost a year amid building momentum in the housing market, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.

Sales of existing homes, the largest part of the market, rose 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.15 million units in July, the highest rate since last September, NAR said.

The June sales rate was revised slightly lower to 5.03 million.

The July sales pace was the strongest of the year, but still 4.3 percent below the year-ago level, which was the peak of 2013.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said that sales momentum was emerging behind stronger job growth and more homes on the market.

“The number of houses for sale is higher than a year ago and tamer price increases are giving prospective buyers less hesitation about entering the market,” he said.

“More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year and this trend should continue with interest rates remaining low and apartment rents on the rise.”

The median existing-home price in July was $222,900, up 4.9 percent from a year ago. July marked the 29th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

The inventory of existing homes for sale at the end of July rose 3.5 percent to 2.37 million, a 5.5-month supply at the current sales pace.

“Another solid and better-than-expected US housing report this week suggests that, while downshifting from last year’s torrid pace, the recovery remains fully intact,” said Robert Kavcic of BMO Capital Markets.

AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards

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