The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issued its monthly report on existing home sales for April this morning, and the news was about what was expected. Sales rose 3.4% in the month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, up from a revised sales total of 4.47 million in March. Compared with April 2011, sales rose 10%. A MarketWatch poll of economists indicated an annual rate of 4.6 million sales, so the NAR report was slightly better than expected.
The median existing-home sales price also rose, up 10.1% year-over-year to $177,400. The March median price was up a revised 3.1% year-over-year, making this the first time that prices have risen for two months in a row since June-July of 2010. The NAR’s chief economist expects existing home prices to rise 1%-2% by the end of the year and to continue to improve in 2013.
There was also some mixed news for sellers:
Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 9.5 percent to 2.54 million existing homes available for sale, 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 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.1-month supply; the record for unsold inventory was 4.04 million in July 2007.
With prices rising in some market, inventory is coming back, and sales of distressed properties declined slightly in April, from 29% of sales in March to 28% and 34% in April 2010. The housing market continues to inch its way out of a deep hole.