Sales of previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly climbed in October, showing record-low mortgage rates are helping spur the world’s largest economy. Contracts to buy previously owned homes rose in November in the United States to their highest level in two and a half years, an industry group said on Friday, further evidence of a strengthening housing market recovery.
The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 1.7 percent to 106.4 points — the highest level since April 2010, when the homebuyer tax credit expired.
A housing turnaround is also taking place in other parts of the world. Home sellers in London increased asking prices in November for a third month as the city’s wealthiest areas continued to lure overseas buyers. Prices in the U.K. capital increased 1.2 percent to an average 483,709 pounds ($769,600), the operator of Britain’s biggest property website said.
The housing market has turned the corner after a dramatic collapse, which dragged the economy through its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Home sales and prices are rising, encouraging builders to undertake new construction projects.