It's true that mortgage rates have inched up somewhat over the past few months -- but that hasn't yet stalled home sales in America. September numbers are just in from our friends at the Commerce Department, and sales of new homes, while down a mite (0.02%) from August's levels, remain quite robust, 1.1 million (seasonally adjusted) units sold. That's the third-largest number on record.

The National Association of Realtors chimed in, reporting a 3.6% pop in September sales of used (sorry, "previously owned") homes, to 6.7 million dwellings. This number exceeded experts' expectations and, for some, is evidence of a stronger-than-expected recovery under way.

Together, both new and used home sales are projected to set new records for the year 2003.

With interest rates still very low and housing prices continuing to appreciate steadily, there's a solid incentive for many people to no longer put off buying a house. According to USA Today, "The median price of a new home. was $187,400, representing a 5.6% increase from the same month a year ago. For a previously owned home, the national median price in September was $172,300, up 9.1% from September 2002."

What does the future hold? Well, this kind of perfect storm in housing can't last forever. Interest rates, while still low in the low 6% range, are a full percentage point higher than they were this summer.

If you're thinking of buying a home or refinancing your mortgage, you should look into it now and see if it makes sense to take action sooner rather than later. You'll find much guidance in our Home Center, which also offers some mortgage deals. And drop by our Buying and Selling a Home discussion board, too, to see what other Fools are saying or to ask any questions (a painless 30-day free trial is available).

You can also learn more in our articles on The Housing Frenzy and whether you can afford that house.