A real estate sales sign sits outside of a house for sale in Phoenix, Arizona
A home for sale in Phoenix REUTERS

Existing-home sales in July rose 6.5 percent to 5.39 million, 17.2 percent above the 4.6 million unit sales in July 2012, while prices continued the upward trend of the past 17 months, according to Wednesday’s National Association of Realtors report.

The national median existing-home price for all U.S. housing types was $213,500 in July, 13.7 percent above that of July 2012. The last time prices rose for so many consecutive months was from January 2005 to May 2006.

“Mortgage interest rates are at the highest level in two years, pushing some buyers off the sidelines,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The initial rise in interest rates provided strong incentive for closing deals. However, further rate increases will diminish the pool of eligible buyers.”

The median time on market for all homes was 42 days in July, up from 37 days in June, but that is 39 percent below the 69 days on market in July 2012. Short sales were on the market for a median 72 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 50 days and non-distressed homes took 40 days. Forty-five percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.