While the National Association of Realtors released a report on Tuesday showing a rebound in U.S. existing home sales in the month of April following a decrease in the previous month, sales rose by less than economists had anticipated.
NAR said existing home sales rose 3.4 percent to an annual rate of 4.62 million in April from a downwardly revised 4.47 million in March. Economists had expected sales to climb to an annual rate of 4.66 million from the 4.48 million originally reported for the previous month.
Even though existing home sales rose by less than anticipated, NAR noted that sales are 10.0 percent higher than the 4.20 million-unit level in April of 2011.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing recovery is underway, noting, "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 added.
The report also showed that there were 2.54 million existing homes available for sale at the end of April, up 9.5 percent from the 2.32 million available for sale at the end of March.
Total housing inventories represent 6.6 months of supply at the current sales pace, up from 6.2 months of supply in March.
Additionally, NAR said the median existing-home price for all housing types rose 7.6 percent to $177,400 in April from $164,800 in March.
The median price in April reflected a 10.1 percent jump compared to the same month a year ago following a 3.1 percent annual improvement in March.
"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 one percent," Yun said. "For the year we're looking for a modest overall price gain of 1.0 to 2.0 percent, with stronger improvement in 2013."
The increase in existing home sales in April reflected a 3.0 percent increase in single-family home sales as well as a 6.0 percent increase in existing condominium and co-op sales.
The report also showed a notable increase in existing home sales in the Northeast, where sales rose by 5.1 percent in April
Existing home sales in the West and the South rose by 4.4 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, while sales in the Midwest edged up by 1.0 percent.
Wednesday morning, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new home sales in the month of April. Economists expect new home sales to rise to an annual rate of 335,000 from 328,000 in the previous month.
by RTT Staff Writer
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