WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of both new and previously owned homes posted solid gains in July as low mortgage rates motivated buyers to lock in good deals.
New-home sales shot up by 6.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million, the highest monthly level on record, the Commerce Department reported Monday.
Existing-home sales, meanwhile, rose 4.5 percent in July from the previous month to a rate of 5.33 million units, the National Association of Realtors said in a second report.
One of the consistent bright spots of the spotty economic recovery has been the housing market, which even performed well during last year's recession. The driving force behind the solid activity: low mortgage rates.
In July, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 6.49 percent, down from 6.65 percent in June, and well below the 7.13 percent rate for July a year ago, according to Freddie Mac, the mortgage company. Last week, rates on 30-year mortgages edged up to 6.27 percent, after dipping to a 32-year low in the prior week.
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