WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of previously owned homes rose for a third straight month in June, pushing activity to the highest level in eight months and providing evidence that housing is regaining lost momentum.

The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes increased 2.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million homes. It marked the first time that sales have been above the 5 million-mark since October.

Even with the three months of increases, sales are still 2.3% below the pace in June of last year.

Sales peaked in early summer last year and then lost momentum as mortgage rates rose from extremely low levels. Sales were further hurt by an unusually severe winter.

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