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Housing market defies expectations amid economic turmoil

Some areas of housing are actually doing better than they were before the coronavirus began sweeping the U.S.

The U.S. housing market, the epicenter of the nation’s last economic meltdown, is thriving — and that's helping to keep the country afloat during the latest crisis, even as other industries struggle to survive.


While the $34 trillion market faltered at the start of the pandemic, its rebound has far outperformed expectations, with existing home sales surging over 20 percent in June, according to data released Wednesday. Some areas of housing are actually doing better than they were before the coronavirus began sweeping the U.S.


The reason: The market’s already enormously pent-up demand has been stoked by the crisis, despite soaring unemployment. White-collar employees — many of whom are able to work from home and keep getting paychecks — are buying. And analysts believe the pandemic has prompted some millennials, now reaching the prime age for buying first homes, to pull up stakes in crowded cities and head for the suburbs. Securing a home loan, meanwhile, is cheaper than ever, with mortgage rates hitting historic lows thanks to the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy.

“The market’s performance has been admittedly shocking, amazing, considering that typically when you have surging unemployment, housing activity tends to fall," said Ivy Zelman, CEO of the housing research firm Zelman Associates. "That tends to be the case going all the way back to World War II.”

Housing-related expenditures make up about 15 percent of GDP, so the industry's current strength is alleviating some of the stress on the broader economy less than four months before President Donald Trump — whose own family made their fortune in housing — faces reelection.


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