The number of homes sold in April and the median price of those homes both rose in April, according to data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. The improvements in sales and prices were broad based across all regions.
Sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops increased 3.4% in April and were 10% higher than the sales pace in April 2011.
Home buyers have returned to the market, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “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.”
The number of homes for sale rose 9.5% to 2.54 million at the end of April, a seasonal increase which represents a 6.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 6.2-month supply in March.
Listed inventory is 20.6% 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,” Yun said. “Moreover, an acute shortage of inventory in certain markets is leading to multiple biddings and escalating price conditions.”
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,” Yun said.
Home prices rise
The national median existing-home price for all housing types jumped 10.1% to $177,400 in April from a year ago; 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.”
Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts — accounted for 28% of April sales (17% were foreclosures and 11% were short sales), down from 29% in March and 37% in April 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 21% below market value in April, while short sales were discounted 14%.
First-time buyers rose to 35% of purchasers in April from 33% in March; they were 36% in April 2011.
All-cash sales fell to 29% of transactions in April from 32% in March; they were 31% in April 2011. Investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 20% of homes in April, compared with 21% in March and 20% in April 2011.
Single-family home sales
Single-family home sales rose 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.09 million in April from 3.97 million in March, and are 9.9% higher than the 3.72 million-unit pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $178,000 in April, up 10.4% from April 2011.
Condo prices rise
Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 6.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 in April from 500,000 in March, and are 10.4% above the 480,000-unit level in April 2011. The median existing condo price was $172,900 in April, which is 8.1% above a year ago.
Home prices rise in all regions
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 5.1% to an annual level of 620,000 in April and are 19.2% higher than a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $256,600, up 8.8% from April 2011.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 1.0% in April to a pace of 1.03 million and are 14.4% above April 2011. The median price in the Midwest was $141,400, up 7.4% from a year ago.
In the South, existing-home sales rose 3.5% to an annual level of 1.79 million in April and are 6.5% higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $153,400, up 8.0% from April 2011.
Existing-home sales in the West increased 4.4% to an annual pace of 1.18 million in April and are 7.3% above April 2011. The median price in the West was $221,700, a surge of 15.9% from a year ago.