The American home-buying spree saw a record number of contract signings for home purchases in August.
The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its index of pending sales rose 8.8 percent to a record high of 132.8. That is 24.2 percent above the August 2019 level.
An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001. It had sunk to a low of 69 in April, when buyers and sellers were sidelined as the coronavirus swept through the U.S. But the housing market has been on an explosive surge in the subsequent months as Americans sought more privacy and living space, increasingly work remotely, and fled from decaying cities beset by resurgent virus infections, lockdowns of cultural amenities such as museums and theaters, shuttered bars and restaurants, deteriorating finances, rioting, rising murder rates, and leftist politics.
Economists had been expecting just a 3.1 percent rise.
The better than expected results suggest that the hot U.S. housing market will continue well into fall.
Contract signings are a barometer of finalized purchases over the next two months, so this month’s numbers point to continued strong sales into October.
The positive pending home sales numbers follow a pair of indicators showing continued strength in the housing market. The National Association of Realtors said last week that sales of existing homes rose 2.4 oercewnt in August to its highest level since 2006. Sales are up 10.5 percent from a year ago and back to pre-COVID-19 levels of early 2020. Also last week, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes rose a solid 4.8 percent in August after surging 13.9 percent in July.
Historically low mortgage rates of less than 3 percent are pushing buyers into the market, even as home prices rise due to lack available properties.
The median price for an existing single-family home reached $315,000 in August, up 11.7 percent from August 2019. The median price of a new home sold in August was $312,800.
All four regions of the U.S. saw more contract signings for the third straight month.
–UPI and AP contributed to this report.