April Existing-Home Sales Up, Prices Rise Again

Existing-home sales rose in April and remain above a year ago, while home prices continued to rise, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The improvements in sales and prices were broad based across all regions.

Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April from a downwardly revised 4.47 million in March, and are 10.0 percent higher than the 4.20 million-unit level in April 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing recovery is underway.  “It is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions.  A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices,” he said.  “The general downtrend in both listed and shadow inventory has shifted from a buyers’ market to one that is much more balanced, but in some areas it has become a seller’s market.”

Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 9.5 percent to 2.54 million existing homes available for sale, a seasonal increase which represents a 6.6-month supply2 at the current sales pace, up from a 6.2-month supply in March.  Listed inventory is 20.6 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.1-month supply; the record for unsold inventory was 4.04 million in July 2007.

“A diminishing share of foreclosed property sales is helping home values.  Moreover, an acute shortage of inventory in certain markets is leading to multiple biddings and escalating price conditions,” Yun said. He notes some areas with tight supply include the Washington, D.C., area; Miami; Naples, Fla.; North Dakota; Phoenix; Orange County, Calif.; and Seattle.  “We expect stronger price increases in most of these areas.”

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