Existing-home sales hit their highest level in 6 1/2 years in August, as fast-rising mortgage rates pushed buyers to close deals, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported today.

Existing-home sales rose 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in August from 5.39 million in July, and were up 13.2 percent annually, according to NAR.

“Rising mortgage interest rates pushed more buyers to close deals, but monthly sales are likely to be uneven in the months ahead from several market frictions,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Tight inventory is limiting choices in many areas, higher mortgage interest rates mean affordability isn’t as favorable as it was, and restrictive mortgage lending standards are keeping some otherwise qualified buyers from completing a purchase.”

Existing-home inventory at the end of August increased 0.4  percent to 2.25 million homes, representing a 4.9-month supply of homes at the current rate of home sales, NAR said.

That’s down from a five-month supply in July and a six-month supply a year before, the trade group said.

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