WASHINGTON -- U.S. sales of previously occupied homes jumped to their highest level in three years last month, bolstered by steady job gains and record-low mortgage rates.

The National Association of Realtors says sales rose 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in November. That's up from 4.76 million in October.

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Previously occupied home sales are on track for their best year in five years. November's sales were the highest since November 2009, when a federal tax credit that was scheduled to expire spurred sales. Excluding that month, last month's sales were the highest since July 2007.

Sales are up 14.5 percent from a year ago, though they remain below the roughly 5.5 million that are consistent with a healthy market.