Sales of existing homes jumped a record 20.7 percent in June, ending three months of coronavirus-driven declines as buyers returned to the market, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Wednesday.

Sales were at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.72 million last month, slightly better than expected, though were down 11.3 percent from June 2019.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun credited the month-on-month rebound to "buyers... eager to purchase homes and properties that they had been eyeing during the shutdown."

"This revitalization looks to be sustainable for many months ahead as long as mortgage rates remain low and job gains continue."

Sales of existing US homes climbed at a record pace in June from the month prior, but were down 11.3 percent compared to the year-ago period
Sales of existing US homes climbed at a record pace in June from the month prior, but were down 11.3 percent compared to the year-ago period GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / JOE RAEDLE

Sales rose in all regions with the nation's west seeing the biggest jump, while prices were up 3.5 percent from a year ago.

However inventory tightened, with unsold units dropping to a 4.0-month supply from 4.8 months in May, and total inventory at 1.57 million units -- down 18.2 percent from June 2019 even if it's 1.3 percent above last month.

"Home prices rose during the lockdown and could rise even further due to heavy buyer competition and a significant shortage of supply," Yun said.

The relatively healthy data comes despite otherwise gloomy projections for the US economy, where business shutdowns to stop COVID-19 sent the unemployment rate to 11.1 percent in June and a surge in cases has forced some areas to roll back steps to reopen.

"This might seem hard to square with the surge in unemployment," Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said of the NAR survey, "but the wave of job losses among the relatively young workforce in the leisure and hospitality sector has mostly hit renters; the median age of a US homebuyer is about 47."

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