Home Sales Jump 7.7 pct. as Foreclosures Rise

By DEREK KRAVITZ | September 21, 2011 | 10:05 AM EDT

FILE - In this April 4, 2010 file photo, a foreclosure sign sits atop a for sale sign in front of a single-family home tops the for sale sign in Denver. Barack Obama's road to re-election is lined with lots of boarded-up homes. While the high unemployment rate dominates talk in Washington, for many 2012 voters the housing crisis may well be a more powerful manifestation of the sick economy. And, in an unfortunate twist for Obama, the housing problem is at its worst in many of the battleground states that will be decisive in determining whether the president gets another term. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Washington (AP) — The number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes rose in August. But sales were driven by an increase in foreclosures, evidence the housing market remains weak.

The National Association of Realtors says home sales rose 7.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million homes. That's below the 6 million that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing market.

Last month's pace was slightly ahead of the 4.91 million sold in 2010, the weakest sales year in 13 years.

Home at risk of foreclosure made up 31 percent of sales, up from 29 percent in July.

First-time homebuyers were unchanged at 32 percent of all sales. The normally make up 50 percent of sales in healthy markets.