Sales of previously owned homes rose two percent in July, according to the National Association of Realtors. The increase marked the third consecutive monthly gain and put sales 10.3 percent above year-before levels. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said there has been an impressive growth in sales during this year’s peak buying season. “The creation of jobs added at a steady clip and the prospect of higher mortgage rates and home prices down the road is encouraging more households to buy now,” Yun said. “As a result, current homeowners are using their increasing housing equity towards the down payment on their next purchase.” The encouraging report wasn’t all good news, however. For example, the number of homes available for sale remains low and, when inventory is low, home prices begin to rise at a faster pace. In July, prices were 5.6 percent higher than one year ago and increased year-over-year for the 41st consecutive month. But despite low inventory and steady price gains, homeownership remains an affordable choice due to low mortgage rates and ever-increasing rents. Also in the report, the typical home for sale stayed on the market for 42 days, up from 34 days in June. More here.