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'Booming' housing sales jump 25% as supply, mortgage rates remain low

Median housing prices top $300k for the first time in U.S. history

Updated: August 21, 2020 - 1:15pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A "booming" housing market saw home sales skyrocket from June into July, with "heavy buyer competition" keeping prices high and inventory low across the country. 

Total "existing-home sales" from one month to the next were up 24.7% "to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million in July," the National Realtors Association said in a Friday press release. 

The housing market "is well past the recovery phase and is now booming with higher home sales compared to the pre-pandemic day," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, noting that the major shift to remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic has led buyers to seek out larger housing arrangements. 

Mortgage rates also remain low, down to an average of 3.02% in July from 3.16% in June. That's down from an average of 3.94% in 2019. 

The median price of houses in the country, meanwhile, was $304,100, an 8.5% jump from July of 2019 and the first time in U.S. history that median prices topped $300,000. 

Yun noted that any home placed up for sale is "quickly taken out of the market from heavy buyer competition." Total housing inventory was down over 20% from a year ago.

"More homes need to be built," Yun said. 

NAR President Vince Malta, meanwhile, said the booming housing market is "help[ing] rejuvenate our nation’s economy despite incredibly difficult circumstances."

"Admittedly, we have a way to go toward full recovery," Malta said, "but I have faith in our communities, the real estate industry and in NAR’s 1.4 million members, and I know collectively we will continue to mount an impressive recovery.”