Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans stepped up their purchases of new homes in July to the fastest pace in nearly nine years, as low mortgage rates and a steady job market are fueling a real estate surge.

READ MORE: Little Elm High Students Back In School For 1st Time Since Walkout Got Out Of Hand 10 Days Ago

The Commerce Department says new-home sales jumped 12.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 654,000 units, the strongest level since October 2007. Demand has eclipsed the pace of construction. Just 4.3 months’ supply of new homes is on the market, down from 5.2 months a year ago. Sales have climbed 12.4 percent year-to-date.

READ MORE: Lincoln Riley Leaves OU For USC, Bob Stoops Returning As Interim Head Coach For Bowl Game

Purchases shot up 40 percent in the Northeast and 18.1 percent in the South last month. They increased slightly in the Midwest and stayed unchanged in the West.

July’s median sales price dipped 0.5 percent from a year ago to $294,600.

MORE NEWS: 16 Units Damaged In 3-Alarm Apartment Fire In Fort Worth

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)