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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Existing-Home Sales Rise, as Do Mortgage Rates

Are we on the road to recovery, at least in housing?

Today the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously occupied homes rose for the third month in a row in June -- a feat that hasn't occurred since the boom in early 2004.

Home sales were up in all four regions of the country. Sales jumped 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in June. Just a month before it looked as if the pace was slowing at 4.72 million.

The total inventory of unsold homes fell to 3.82 million existing homes available for sale, a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace.

“This is another hopeful sign – if we can keep the volume of sales above the level of new inventory, prices could stabilize in many areas around the end of the year,” said Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, in a statement.

And the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week to 5.2 percent, up from 5.14 percent a week ago, according to Freddie Mac.

“The worst may be behind us,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist, in a statement.

But some say it's too early to call this a turning point. The credit markets are still tight, and the economy is hemorrhaging jobs. The tax credit for first-time home buyers, which has boosted sales, ends Dec. 1.

--Kendra Marr

By Terri Rupar  |  July 23, 2009; 3:49 PM ET
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