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Posted: Thursday, August 23rd 2012 at 6:06pm

New home sales match 2-year high

By The Associated Press
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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The report on new home sales followed by one day a report that sales of previously occupied homes increased in July from June.
WASHINGTON Sales of new homes in the United States rose 3.6 percent in July to match a two-year high reached in May, the latest sign of a steady recovery in the housing market.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that new-home sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 372,000. That's the same as in May, which was the highest since April 2010.

In the past 12 months, sales have jumped 25 percent. Still, the increase is from a historically low level. New-home sales remain well below the annual pace of 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

One trend holding back sales is that there aren't many newly built homes available. New homes for sale dipped last month to 142,000, the lowest on records dating back to 1963.

The housing market is making a modest but steady recovery in part because homes are more affordable: Mortgage rates have fallen to near-record lows. Housing prices are about one-third lower than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006. Those trends have helped lift sales of both new and previously occupied homes.

Sales of previously occupied homes increased in July from June, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. (See separate story.) Sales have jumped 10 percent in the past year.
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