After two months of declines, existing-home sales moved upward in April, improving 3.4% from March’s level and 10% annually to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, according to data released today by the National Association of Realtors. Improvements were seen in all four regions, and across housing types, with condo/co-op sales gaining 6.0% and single-family sales improving 3.0%.
However, the real star of the report was pricing. Among single-family homes, both median and average prices made record-setting jumps, gaining 7.8% and 6.5%, respectively. All four regions logged improvements, led by the Northeast’s 11.5% gain from March’s level.
What triggered the price jump remains uncertain, says Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. "Some recent housing reports have shown home prices stabilizing. But none has shown prices suddenly taking off. Home prices can shoot up, among other reasons, if demand picks up sharply, if the proportion of distressed sales drops sharply, if the proportion of more expensive homes sold rises sharply, or some combination of these. Without more information than contained in the report, however, it is impossible to tell what drove home prices up last month."
In keeping with annual trends, total housing inventory also sprang up in April, gaining 9.5% from the previous month to 2.54 million existing homes available—a 6.6-month supply. If seasonal factors are taken into account, however, inventory declined to a 6.3-month supply in April, from a 6.5-month supply the previous month.
Newport forecasts existing-home sales will improve by 10% this year to 4.71 million units.
Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.