U.S. existing home sales rose more than expected to 5.00 million units in July, a 3.1% gain in the month, following June's revised sales figure of 4.85 million. With that gain the index rebounded to the highest level in five months, although the range in the past 11 months has been relatively narrow, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Economists were expecting the July data to rise to only 4.91 million.

Total housing inventories rose to a record-high 11.2-month supply in July, up from the 11.1-month supply in June.

Since July 2007, existing home sales have declined by 13.2%.

Single-family unit sales rose 3.1% to a pace of 4.39 million, down from a rate of 4.26 million in the previous month.

The national median existing home price fell to $212,400 in July, down from the June figure of $215,100 and marking a 7.1% year-over-year decline.

Existing home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings. This differs from the U.S. Census Bureau's series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit.

By Patrick McGee and edited by Nancy Girgis