Existing Home Sales Rose 2.9 percent in April, NAR

The pace of sales of existing homes in the U.S. rose 2.9% in April with strong buyer activity in lower price ranges, according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors [NAR].

The survey said sales increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million units from a downwardly revised 4.55 million pace in March, initially reported as 4.57 million. That was slightly better than market expectations for a 4.66 million-unit pace. The better-than-expected month-over-month increase supports views the three-year housing recession may be near a bottom.

During the month, single-family home sales rose 2.5% to an annual rate of 4.18 million from a level of 4.08 million in March, while condos jumped 6.4% to a 500,000 annual pace in April from 470,000 in March. Home sales were up in three of the four regions.

The median national home price fell 15.4% on a Y/Y basis to $170,200 while the median existing condo price was $173,900 in April, down 18.5% from April 2008. Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 8.8% to 3.97 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.2.-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with a 9.6-month supply in March.

First-time buyers and modest-priced homes continue to drive the market, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

“Most of the sales are taking place in lower price ranges and activity is beginning to pick up in the mid-price ranges, but high-end home sales remain sluggish,” he said.

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