U.S. Home Sales Hit Highest Rate Since 2009

In this Tuesday, May 28, 2013, photo, a single family home is shown for sale in Surfside, Fla.

In this Tuesday, May 28, 2013, photo, a single family home is shown for sale in Surfside, Fla.

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By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of previously occupied U.S. homes surged in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million, approaching a healthy level for the first time since November 2009. The spike in home sales shows housing continues to drive the economy.

The National Association of Realtors says sales jumped 6.5 percent from a 5.06 million pace in June. Sales are 17.2 percent higher than 12 months ago.

[READ: July Housing Starts Come in Below Estimates]

Home sales and prices have climbed since early last year, buoyed by steady hiring and historically low mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates have begun to rise in the past two months and could slow sales later this year. Higher rates may have encouraged some potential homebuyers to close deals.

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