The U.S. real estate market continued to show signs of improvement last month, according to data released today by an industry association. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that sales of existing homes rose 2.3% in July.
That increase boosted the annual sales rate to 4.47 million units for the month. But it missed the annual pace of 4.52 million units forecast by economists, Reuters noted.
Home buyers also paid more for an existing home last month. The median home resale price rose to $187,300, up 9.4% from the same time in 2011.
Analysts cited low mortgage rates and marginal improvements in the job market for giving consumers confidence to “unleash pent-up demand” for homes.
Homebuilder stocks benefited from the NAR report and from markedly higher quarterly earnings posted by luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL), which reported higher home orders and prices during the last quarter.
Shares of Toll Brothers rose 4%, while shares of D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) and Ryland Group (NYSE:RYL) increased about 3% in Wednesday morning trading.