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Home Sales Jump to Highest since May 2010

Home resales rose at the fastest pace in two years last month and housing prices climbed in hopeful signs that the housing market recovery is gaining traction.

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

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

Housing starts rise less than expected 

“The housing market is steadily recovering with consistent increases in both home sales and median prices. More buyers are taking advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions,” he said. “Inventories in many parts of the country are broadly balanced, favoring neither sellers nor buyers. However, the West and Florida markets are experiencing inventory shortages, which are placing pressure on prices.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.60 percent in August from a record low 3.55 percent in July; the rate was 4.27 percent in August 2011.

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