For the first time in five years, existing home sales have increased for four months in a row, according to an August report by the The National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Existing home sales - including single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops - increased 7.2 percent in July, which is the largest monthly sales gain recorded since 1999. Analysts are projecting an increase in 2009 of existing home sales to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.24 million units, which is 5 percent above the 4.99 million-unit pace set in July 2008.

"The housing market has decisively turned for the better," said Lawrence Yun, chief NAR economist. "A combination of first-time buyers taking advantage of the housing stimulus tax credit and greatly improved affordability conditions are contributing to higher sales."