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Posted at 10:37 AM ET, 05/22/2012

Existing home sales and prices rise in April


(Jim R. Bounds - BLOOMBERG)
Existing-home sales picked up in April and home prices continued to rise, according to data released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales -- which include completed transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops -- increased 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April from 4.47 million in March. That figure is 10 percent higher than the 4.20 million-unit level in April 2011.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the numbers are a sign that everyday home-buyers, not just developers, are now house-hunting.

“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 said in a statement.

Inventory also rose from March to April but is still below levels from a year ago, creating a seller’s market in some areas:

“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 .”

Yun said said that “an acute shortage of inventory in certain markets is leading to multiple biddings and escalating price conditions.” Some areas with tight supply include the Washington, D.C.; Miami; Naples, Fla.; North Dakota; Phoenix; Orange County, Calif.; and Seattle.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types jumped 10.1 percent to $177,400 in April from a year ago. The March price showed a 3.1 percent annual increase.

March home sales decline

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