ECONOMY

US home sales climb 2 percent in July; strong demand not matched by increased listings

Americans stepped up their home-buying for a third straight month in July, as sales accelerated to the strongest pace in eight years.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes rose 2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million, the fastest rate since February 2007.

Steady job growth and historically low mortgage rates have convinced current homeowners to purchase homes, while first-time buyers remain relatively scarce. The housing market contains a mere 4.8 months' supply of homes, meaning that prices are rising for an increasingly narrow set of properties.

Sales have jumped 9.6 percent over the past 12 months, while the number of listings has declined 4.7 percent.

The median home price climbed 5.6 percent over the past 12 months to $234,000.