Existing U.S. home sales rose 7.8 in August over July and came in higher than the same month a year earlier for the sixth consecutive month, a trade group said. Existing home sales in August reached 4.82 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. By comparison, the annual rate was 4.47 million in July and 4.41 million in August 2011. NAR said home prices have not improved over the same month a year earlier for six straight months since before the recession in a stretch that went from December 2005 to May 2006. \"The housing market is steadily recovering with consistent increases in both home sales and median prices,\" said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. \"More buyers are taking advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions,\" Yun added in a statement. NAR said the median sales price for existing homes rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier, reaching $187,400 in August, up $100 from July. Despite increased sales, the inventory of homes on the market rose 2.9 percent to 2.47 million, which represents a 6.1-month supply at the current rate of sales, NAR said. In another telling statistic, NAR said the average time a house is listed on the market before a sale was 70 days in August, consistent with July, but down 23.9 percent from the 92 day average in August 2011. In August, 32 percent of the homes sold had been listed less than a month, while 19 percent had been listed for more than six months, NAR said.