According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) sales of existing-homes continued their recent pattern and sit higher for a second month in a row -- even amidst continuing inventory shortages and quickening price increases. Nationally, the Midwest saw a noticeable sales bump while the Northeast saw modest gains; these were offset by small declines in the South and West.
Total existing-home sales (transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops) grew 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million in April from an upwardly revised 5.36 million in March. Sales are now up 6.0 percent over April 2015.
NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, indicated that April's sales growth points to slowly building momentum for the housing market this spring. "Primarily driven by a convincing jump in the Midwest, where home prices are most affordable, sales activity overall was at a healthy pace last month as very low mortgage rates and modest seasonal inventory gains encouraged more households to search for and close on a home," he said. Yun added that, "Except for in the West — where supply shortages and stark price growth are hampering buyers the most — sales are meaningfully higher than a year ago in much of the country."
Let's take a look at some key national data points.
Median Prices | April's median existing-home price for all housing types was $232,500, a 6.3 percent rise over April 2015 ($218,700). April's price gain represents the 50th month in a row of year-over-year gains.
Inventory | Total housing inventory at the end of April grew 9.2 percent to 2.14 million existing homes available for sale, however this is 3.6 percent below a year ago (2.22 million). Unsold inventory now sits at a 4.7-month supply given the current sales velocity, up from 4.4 months in March.
Mortgage Rates | According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 3.69 percent in March to 3.61 percent in April, the lowest since May 2013 (3.54 percent). The average commitment for 2015 was 3.85 percent.
First Time Buyers | Nationally, first-time buyers represented 32 percent of transactions in April, up from 30 percent both in March and a year ago. First-time buyers in all of 2015 drove an average of 30 percent of transactions.