UPDATE 2-Strong housing demand fuels D.R. Horton profit beat, shares rise

(Adds Pulte results, updates shares)

July 26 (Reuters) - D.R. Horton, the biggest U.S. homebuilder, topped Wall Street profit estimates on Thursday for the seventh straight quarter as it sold more homes, providing evidence that the housing market remains strong.

Orders, an indicator of future revenue for homebuilders, rose 12.3 percent to 14,650 homes in the third quarter ended June 30.

Smaller rival PulteGroup Inc on Thursday reported second-quarter profit and revenue that topped analysts' estimates.

However, Pulte - the No. 3 U.S. homebuilder, reported a 0.8 percent dip in quarterly orders, its first decline in nearly three years. The company said it still sees demand being supported by a stronger economy.

D.R. Horton shares rose about 4 percent before the bell and Pulte slipped about 2 percent in light premarket trading.

Both companies sold more homes in their respective quarters. Over the past few years, homebuilders have benefited from robust housing demand, bolstered by economic growth and an improving job market.

But, higher building material costs, and shortages of land and labors, are pushing homebuilders to raise prices, diminishing affordability as more millennials and first-time buyers enter the housing market.

Mortgage rates have also edged up, but still hover around historic lows.

The results from both come on the heels of Wednesday's data pointing to new U.S. single-family home sales falling to an eight-month low in June. 1/8nL1N1UK0Z0

D.R. Horton's net income rose 57 percent to $453.8 million, or $1.18 per share in the quarter, beating analysts' estimates of $1.08 per share.

Revenue rose 17.4 percent to $4.44 billion, above estimates of $4.32 billion.

D.R. Horton also announced a repurchase of up to $400 million worth of its shares through September, 2019. (Reporting by Arunima Banerjee and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)