The National Association of Realtors U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years.

Bay Area Feels The Effects Of Plunging Housing MarketAnalysts say it’s a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping to bolster the economy.

Sales rose 0.4 percent in January compared with December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. That was the second-highest sales pace since November 2009, when a temporary home buyer tax credit had boosted sales.

The median price for a home sold in January was $173,600, a 12.3 percent increase from a year ago.

Analysts say purchases would be higher if more homes were available. The supply of homes for sale dropped to nearly an eight-year low in January.

The 1.74 million previously owned homes for sale at the end of January represented a 4.2-month supply at January’s sales pace. That’s the lowest supply since April 2008.

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