Jul 22, 2020 - Economy

Americans set new monthly record for buying existing homes

Illustration of a pair of hands laying down bricks made of hundred dollar bills. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Existing home sales jumped by 20.7% in June over the prior month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said in a report released Wednesday.

Why it matter: It's the largest recorded monthly increase since 1968, when NAR began collecting data on single-family houses, and comes amid mass unemployment and an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • House sales overall have dipped compared to last year, the association says, with an 11.3% drop in purchases compared to June 2019.

What's happening: The surge is due to "apartment renters seeking more space, young families moving to the suburbs, and wealthy city dwellers looking for second homes," the WSJ reports.

  • Most existing home sales took place in the West and the South last month, per the WSJ.
  • “The housing market is hot, red hot,” said Lawrence Yun, chief NAR economist. “As we are coming out of the lockdown, we see this backlog of buyers…trying to take advantage of the record-low mortgage rates.”

Flashback: The median price of existing homes jumped to a record high in April, per NAR.

What's next: "Now, the major question is whether June’s strong sales pace can continue this summer, or if home sales will slow as pent-up demand falls off and unemployment remains high," the WSJ's Nicole Friedman writes.

Go deeper: Rising home sales show Americans are looking past the coronavirus

Go deeper