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US home sales spike 24.7% in July, another record

A sale-pending sign stands outside a house in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania on April 27. The coronavirus pandemic helped shape the housing market by influencing everything from the direction of mortgage rates to the inventory of homes on the market to the types of homes in demand and the desired locations. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

A sale-pending sign stands outside a house in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania on April 27. The coronavirus pandemic helped shape the housing market by influencing everything from the direction of mortgage rates to the inventory of homes on the market to the types of homes in demand and the desired locations. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

By MATT OTT
AP Business Writer

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — U.S. home sales rose an unprecedented 24.7% in July, extending a rebound in June after the coronavirus pandemic all but froze the housing market this spring.

National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales of existing homes jumped last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million. With consecutive months of record-breaking gains, purchases are now up 8.7% from a year ago. Home sales rose 20.7% in June, a record that lasted one month.

The housing market has been one of the more resilient sectors of the economy during the pandemic, but market activity continues to hinge on supply, which was limited even before the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of available homes for sale was 1.5 million units, down 2.6% from June and 21.1% from one year ago. At the current sales pace, there is a 3.1-month supply of houses, down from 3.9 months in June and the 4.2 months from July 2019.

The median price for a home cracked the $300,000 mark for the first time ever, settling at $304,100, up 8.5% from July 2019.

Sales exploded in every region in the country, led by the Northeast and West, where sales grew by more than 30%. The Midwest was close behind as sales there rose 27.5%, while sales in the South rose 19.4%.

The jump in home sales, or closings, comport with pending home sales report from May, which saw signed contracts jump a record 44.3%. That report is a barometer of finalized purchases over the next two months — in this case, the record setting months of June and July.

Sales of both existing and new homes fell sharply during the traditional spring selling season as communities were locked down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But as areas have lifted restrictions and people are figuring out how to go about business under pandemic conditions, home sales have skyrocketed.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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