By Steve Goldstein
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Sales of existing homes surged 7.8% in August to the best level in more than a year as low interest rates and a slowly improving jobs market help fuel a rebound in activity. The National Association of Realtors said sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million from July’s 4.47 million, which was better than the 4.6 million expected in a MarketWatch-compiled economist poll. The level was the highest since May 2010 and the percentage gain was strongest since Aug. 2011. The median existing home price gained 9.5% year-on-year to $187,400, which reflects both the change in the mix of homes but also price gains on similar property. Inventories rose 2.9% to 2.47 million units in August, representing 6.1 months of supply at current sales rate, the lowest since January. The percentage of distressed sales was 22%, the lowest since the NAR began tracking the data in Oct. 2008.