SILVER SPRING, Md. — The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rose for the second straight month after a devastating spring freeze brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

The National Association of Realtors said today that its index of pending sales rose 16.6%, to 116.1 in June. That's up from a reading of 99.6 in May.

Contract signings are now 6.3% ahead of where they were last year after being significantly behind last year's pace due to the pandemic. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

In May, the number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rebounded a record 44.3% after plunging in the spring as buyers and sellers were sidelined by coronavirus-related closures and regulations.

May's recovery was the highest month-over-month gain in the index since since its inception in January 2001.