By Nicole Friedman 

Sales of previously owned homes rose in 2020 to the highest level since 2006, as ultra-low interest rates and remote work during the pandemic increased home-buying demand.

Existing-home sales rose 0.7% in December from November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.76 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. The December sales marked a 22% increase from a year earlier.

Existing-home sales totaled 5.64 million in 2020, up 5.6% from 2019 and the highest level since the 2006 pace of 6.48 million, NAR said.

The Covid-19 pandemic transformed the housing market in 2020, as home sales plunged in the spring due to widespread shelter-in-place restrictions and then quickly rebounded in the summer and fall. In a bright spot for the U.S. economy, strong demand is expected to continue this year, spurring more home construction and sales of furniture and home goods.

"Homeowners are smiling, because they are seeing price increases," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "It's just lack of inventory that is holding back even greater home sales."

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 2% monthly decline in sales of previously owned homes, which make up most of the housing market.

Write to Nicole Friedman at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 22, 2021 10:20 ET (15:20 GMT)

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