Total existing-home sales rose 1.3 percent to an annualized rate of 4.65 million units in April, just below Wall Street’s expectation for an increase to 4.68 million units. According to the newly released report from the National Association of Realtors, monthly sales gains in the West and South largely offset the decline in the Midwest, while the Northeast remained unchanged.
The increase in existing-home sales represents the first time it has increased this year. Inventory increased and home price growth supposedly moderated.
Total existing-home sales, which must be completed and include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, ticked up 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million in April, up from 4.59 million in March. However, sales are 6.8 percent below the 4.99 million-unit level measured in April of 2013.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says he expected the improvement.
“Some growth was inevitable after sub-par housing activity in the first quarter, but improved inventory is expanding choices and sales should generally trend upward from this point,” he said. “Annual home sales, however, due to a sluggish first quarter, will likely be lower than last year.”
Total housing inventory jumped 16.8 percent to 2.29 million existing homes available for sale by the end of April, which is a 5.9-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 5.1 months in the month of March. Also, unsold inventory is 6.5 percent higher than a year ago, when there was a 5.2-month supply. A six months’ supply measurement is considered a relatively healthy balance between supply and demand.
“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,” Yun added.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $201,700, which is 5.2 percent higher than was measured in April 2013. In the first quarter of 2014 the median price was 8.6 percent above 2013.
“Current price data suggests a trend of slower growth, which bodes well for preserving favorable affordability conditions in much of the country,” Yun said.