For the first time in five years, existing-home sales have increased for four months in a row. Existing-home sales rose 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.24 million units in July from a level of 4.89 million in June. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said he is encouraged. “The housing market has decisively turned for the better. A combination of first-time buyers taking advantage of the housing stimulus tax credit and greatly improved affordability conditions are contributing to higher sales,” he said.