April Sales of Existing Homes Post First Gain of 2014

24/7 Wall St.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales in April rose 1.3% to 4.65 million from a total of 4.59 million in March. This marks the first monthly gain in 2014.

Sales are down 6.8% year-over-year for the month. April existing home sales in 2013 came in at 4.99 million.

The consensus estimate called for sales to reach 4.69 million, according to a survey of economists by Bloomberg.

Housing inventory rose 16.8% in April to 2.19 million homes, which is equal to a supply of 5.9 months, higher than the 5.1-month supply in March. Unsold inventory is up 6.5%, compared with April 2013, when there was a supply of 5.2 months.

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According to the NAR, the national median existing home price in April was $201,700, up 5.2% compared with April 2013.

NAR's chief economist said:

We'll continue to see a balancing act between housing inventory and price growth, which remains stronger than normal simply because there have not been enough sellers in many areas. More inventory and increased new-home construction will help to foster healthy market conditions.

Sales of single-family homes rose just 0.5% from March at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.06 million, down 7.7% compared with April a year ago. Sales of multifamily homes rose 7.3% month-over-month to an annual rate of 590,000.

Foreclosed and short sales accounted for 15% of April sales, down from 18% in March. Foreclosures sold at an average 16% discount to the April median price, while short sales sold at a discount of 10%.

Existing, nondistressed homes were on the market for an average of 45 days, while foreclosed homes were on the market for an average of 56 days and short sales took a median of 96 days to sell.

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The sharp jump in housing inventory is the best news from the NAR's April report. Price growth is slowing, and other reports show that mortgage rates are not rising although they remain about one point higher than they were a year ago.

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