That’s the number of previously owned homes bought in the U.S. in July, the second-highest level in more than six years as buyers rushed to lock in mortgage rates before they increased any more.
Purchases advanced 6.5 percent over the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The data reflect closings of contracts signed a month or two earlier, as Bloomberg’s Victoria Stillwell reports, when mortgage rates were just beginning to edge up from record lows, persuading buyers to complete transactions as borrowing costs subsequently shot up. Gains in employment and wages will probably give households the means and confidence to sustain demand throughout 2013.
“Housing will be an important part of the recovery through the rest of this year and into 2014,” said Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh.