Real Estate Outlook: April Existing-Home Sales Rise
by Carla Hill
Monday, May 28, 2012
The latest existing-home sales report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed promising figures for the month of April.
Sales rose by 3.4 percent, bringing the total amount of existing-home sales to 4.62 million. This is 10.0 healthy percentage points higher than 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.
He continued that "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."
Home sales weren't the only figure on the rise in the latest report. Another indicator of a housing recovery made it's appearance. Home prices were also displaying upward movement in the month of April.
The national median existing-home price rose 10.1 percent for the month, up 3.1 percent from last year. This brings the median price to $177,400.
Regional prices varied, but all increased. The Northeast has the highest current median price-tag -- at $256,600. The West followed a close second at $221,700. The Midwest still holds the title for lowest median home price at $141,400.
"This is the first time we've had back-to-back price increases from a year earlier since June and July of 2010 when the gains were less than one percent," Yun said. "For the year we're looking for a modest overall price gain of 1.0 to 2.0 percent, with stronger improvement in 2013."
Home prices have been held down partially by the glut of distressed properties that flooded the market in years past, but Yun reports that these now make up a "diminishing share" of the market.
The NAR reports that distressed homes made up 28 percent of April's total sales, down from 37 percent last year at this time.
Healthy inventory levels will help keep a balance between supply and demand. Total housing inventory at the end of April rose by 9.5 percent, making for a 6.6 month supply.
April 2011 saw a 9.1 month supply -- a record for unsold inventory according to the NAR. Inventory levels were 20.6 percent a year ago.
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