Existing home sales increased 0.6% in April from an upwardly revised level in March, and were up 9.7% from the same period a year ago. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that April 2013 total existing home sales were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.97 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. That compares to 4.94 million units in March, and 4.53 million units during the same period a year ago. All regions were up from a year ago, ranging from 14.9% in the South to 4.3% in the West. For the current month, the only decrease was 3.4% in the Midwest.
The April 2013 level of single-family existing sales increased 1.2% from March to a seasonally adjusted 4.38 million sales, and was up 9.0 % from the same month a year ago. Seasonally adjusted condominium and co-op sales decreased 3.3% from March to a seasonally adjusted 590,000 units in April, but were up 15.7% from the same period a year ago.
The total housing inventory at the end of April increased 11.9% from the previous month to 2.16 million existing homes for sale. At the current sales rate, the April 2013 inventory represents a 5.2-month supply compared to a 4.7-month supply in March, and a 6.6-month supply of homes a year ago. The April inventory of condominiums/co-ops increased to a 4.9-month supply from a 4.8-month supply in March, but was down from a 7.5-month supply a year ago. NAR reported that listed inventory is 13.6% below the same period a year ago, and that listed inventory is most restricted in lower price ranges. NAR also reported that the April median time on market for all homes was 46 days, down from 62 days in March and 83 days during the same month a year ago.
Some 18% of April 2013 sales were distressed, defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. This level was down from 21% in March and 28% during the same month a year ago.
The median sales price for existing homes of all types in April 2013 was $192,800, up from $183,900 in March, and up 11.0% from $173,700 during the same period a year ago. NAR reported that April represented the fourteenth consecutive monthly year-over-year price increase. The median condominium/co-op price increased from $180,000 in March to $189,500 in April, and was up 11.3% from $170,200 a year ago.
In April 2013, all cash sales were 32% of transactions compared to 30% in March, and 29% in April 2012. Investors accounted for 19% of April 2013 home sales, unchanged from March and down slightly from 20 % in April 2013. First-time buyers accounted for 29% of April 2013 sales, down from 30% in March and down from 35% during the same period a year ago.
NAR reported that buyer traffic is up 31% from a year ago, but sales are only up about 10%, despite noting that April existing sales reached the highest level since November 2009 when the market was responding to the home buyer tax credit. Potential buyers continue to face higher prices. Those same increasing prices will induce more households to place their homes on the market, and will eventually dampen the enthusiasm of investors and cash buyers.
The modest increase in April existing home sales was consistent with the 1.5% increase in the March 2013 Pending Home Sales Index.