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U.S. pending home sales rise for third straight month in July

FILE PHOTO: A for sale sign sits outside a house in Miami Beach October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contracts to buy U.S. previously owned homes increased for a third straight month in July as the housing market continues to outperform the broader economy, which has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 5.9% to 122.1 last month. Contracts increased in all four regions last month.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home contracts, which become sales after a month or two, gaining 3% in July. Pending home sales surged 15.5% from a year ago.

The housing market is being powered by record low interest rates and a migration to low-density residential areas as companies allow employees to work from home.

Data last week showed a record jump in sales of previously owned homes in July. Homebuilding and permits also soared last month, while confidence among homebuilders increased in August to the highest level since December 1998.

(This story adds dropped word “July” in headline.)

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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