Spurred by ultra-low mortgage rates, home buyers rushed last month to snap up a limited supply of existing houses, causing the pace of purchases to jump by a record-high 24.7%.

The July surge in sales reported Friday by the National Association of Realtors marked the second straight month of accelerating home purchases. The back-to-back increases have helped stabilize the home buying market, which all but froze early this spring when the viral pandemic erupted across the United States.

With July’s increase, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million, purchases of existing homes are up 8.7% from a year ago. Near record-low mortgage rates have made homes more affordable for buyers, and many are acting to capitalize on them. The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now 2.99%, the mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. A year ago, it was 3.55%.

In central Indiana, completed home sales in the 16-county area increased 8.5% in July on a year-over-year basis and 9.9% compared with the prior month, according to the latest data from the MIBOR Realtor Association, IBJ reported Aug. 18.

The figures also point to a persistently unequal recovery: Many higher-paid white-collar workers, who have disproportionately kept their jobs and can work remotely, are able to buy homes, in some cases far from their employers’ headquarters.