Existing-home sales rose in April and remained above the year-ago level, while home prices continued to rise, according to the National Association of Realtors. NAR said the improvements in sales and prices were seen across all regions of the United States.
Total existing-home sales - completed transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops - were up 3.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April 2012 from a downwardly revised 4.47 million in March 2012, and are 10.0% higher than the 4.20 million-unit level in April 2011.
"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," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing recovery is underway. "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 was up 9.5% to 2.54 million existing homes available for sale, which NAR called a seasonal increase. The inventory is a 6.6-month supply of homes at the current sales pace, up from a 6.2-month supply in March 2012. Listed inventory is 20.6% below one year ago when there was a 9.1-month supply. The record for unsold inventory was July 2007 when the inventory reached 4.04 million homes.
"A diminishing share of foreclosed property sales is helping home values," Yun said.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was up 10.1% to $177,400 in April 2012 from April 2011; this after the March price showed an upwardly revised 3.1% annual improvement. "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 1%," Yun said. "For the year we're looking for a modest overall price gain of 1.0 to 2.0%, with stronger improvement in 2013."
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