Sales of new single-family homes jumped 9.6% in July, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, the fourth straight month of gains. But the jump to a annualized sales rate of 433,000 homes was still 13.4% below the rate of July a year ago.

Commerce also revised its estimates for seasonally adjusted annual sales rates for May and June upward, the former from 346,000 to 362,000.

The median price of new homes sold fell marginally, to $210,100 from $210,400 in June, and the average price declined to $269,200 from $276,900 in June. Year over year, the median price is down from $237,300, the average down from $301,900.

Inventory also declined, from 280,000 at the end of June to 271,000 as July closed, seasonally adjusted. That represents a 7.5-month supply, which was down 11.8% from 8.5 months in June at the current sales rate. Not seasonally adjusted, there were 272,000 new homes for sale at July's end, down significantly from last July, when there were 421,000 new homes on the market. Inventory has not been that low in 16 years. Median months for sale, however, continued climbing at in July was 12.4 months on the market, up from 11.8 in June and from 8.5 last July.

Some 39,000 homes were sold in July, not seasonally adjusted, up from 36,000 in June but down from 43,000 in July, 2008.

Regionally, the Northeast drove the national rise with a sequential gain of 32.4%, up 9.8% from last July. The South also was strong, with a gain of 16.2% over June, but it was 18.4% off last July's pace. The West was up 1%, 14.6% below a year ago. The Midwest was down 7.6% month-to-month and down 4.7% year-over-year.