Sales of existing single-family homes in the United States rose 5.4% in July. from the June level to a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.88 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

The jump was much larger than expected and brings home sales to their highest annualized rate all year. The increase was the third straight monthly advance and followed a revised 1.7% gain in June. The rate is up 14.8% over a year ago.

The median price in July was $109,200, compared with $109,300 in June and $102,800 in July of 1992.

Falloff in Northeast

Sales gained in all parts of the country except the Northeast, where they fell 1.8%, to 560,000. In the West, sales leaped 9.5% to 810.000, while in the Midwest they rose to 1.05 million, an increase of 9-4%.

In the South, meanwhile, volume rose 3.5%, to 1.46 million.

"Summer generally is busy, but this is extraordinary," said William S. Chee, president of the Realtors' group. "More and more |sold' signs are going up."

Officials of the Realtors' group attributed the jump to "extremely low mortgage rates," which have fallen to 25-year lows in recent weeks.

The ranks of first-time buyers have surged in recent months. Also, low home prices, low mortgage rates, and more aggressive marketing of Federal Housing Administration and VA loans have been factors.

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