July's existing-home sales strong at 5.39 million

Total existing-home sales fared well in July, experiencing a 6.5% increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million, marking the 25th consecutive month that sales have remained above year-ago levels.

The National Association of Realtors reported that July's figures are up from June's downwardly revised total of 5.06 million and are 17.2% higher than July 2012's 4.60 million.

Total housing inventory rose 5.6% to 2.28 million existing homes available for sale, marking a 5.1 month supply that was consistent with June's figures.

According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, higher mortgage interest rates (currently at their two-year peak) are prohibitive for some potential buyers, but not enough to prevent a sustainted recovery. Yun also identified tight inventory as a harbinger of above-normal price growth.

“Although housing affordability conditions will become less attractive, jobs are being added to the economy, and mortgage underwriting standards should normalize over time from current stringent conditions as default rates fall," said Yun.

July's national median existing-ho