Sales of existing homes went up as expected in April. Homes bought in lower price ranges led the way according to the National Association of Realtors on Wednesday. Another report came out from FHFA which indicate prices may be stablizing.
Existing home sales were up 2.9% in April.
“Most of the sales are taking place in lower price ranges and activity is beginning to pick up in the midprice ranges, but high-end home sales remain sluggish,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in the report.
First-time buyers were responsible for 40% of all transactions in April. Moreover, distressed properties accounted for 45% of all sales.
“Because foreclosed properties will likely be released into the market over the rest of year, it is critical that distressed homes be quickly cleared from the market,” Yun said, adding that the sale of foreclosure-related homes sets the stage for healthy conditions.
Single-family home sales rose 2.5% to a rate of 4.18 million in April, a pace that is 2.8% below the level one year ago.
Regionally, sales advanced in three of the four regions. Existing home sales in the Northeast jumped 11.6%, while those in the South increased 1.8%, and sales in the West rose 3.5%. In the Midwest, however, sales slipped 2.0%.
The national median price for all types of existing homes ― including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops ― was $170,200, representing a 15.4% fall from the same time last year. For single-family homes only, the price was $169,800 in April, which is 14.9% below a year ago.
Inventories of existing home rose 8.8% in April to to 3.97 million, representing a 10.2-month supplyat the current sales pace. The prior month’s figure was 9.6-months, while a healthy market has just a 6-month supply.
Also released at 10 am was a home price report from by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. It said prices fell an additional 1.1% in March, following a 0.2% uptick in February.
"Our latest data are consistent with growing evidence that housing market conditions may be stabilizing in some parts of the country, especially areas not covered by the other major repeat sales price index," said FHFA Director James Lockhart.
His comments stand in opposition to those from David Blitzer, Chairman of Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, who said on Tuesday the Case-Shiller study of home prices did not suggest price recovery.
“Seventeen metro areas recorded a monthly decline in March, with Minneapolis, Detroit and New York posting record monthly declines,” Blitzer said on Tuesday. He added, “Based on the March data . . . we see no evidence that that a recovery in home prices has begun.”