Existing home sales declined 3.3% in April, despite the fact that almost half of April sales remained on the market less than one month. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported April 2015 total existing home sales at a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.04 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, down from an upwardly revised 5.21 million units in March. April existing sales were up 6.1% from the same period a year ago, and have increased year-over-year for seven consecutive months.
Existing sales in the Midwest increased 1.7% from the previous month, but fell in the other regions, ranging from 1.7% in the West to 6.8% in the South. Year-over-year, all four regions increased, ranging from 13.0% in the Midwest to 1.6% in the Northeast.
The first-time buyer share remained unchanged at 30% in April, compared to 29% in February and 28% in January. The first-time buyer participation remains well below the historically typical 40% share.
Total housing inventory increased 10.0% in April to 2.21 million existing homes, which was still 0.9% below the 2.23 million level during the same month a year ago. At the current sales rate, the April unsold inventory represents a 5.3-month supply, up from a 4.6-month supply last month. NAR also reported that April homes sold in an average of 39 days compared to 52 days in March, and was the shortest time on the market since July 2013.
The distressed sales share remained unchanged at 10% in April, and was down from 15% during the same month a year ago. Distressed sales are defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. April all cash sales remained unchanged at 24% of transactions, down from 26% of transactions in February and 27% in January, and were down from 32% in April 2014. Individual investors purchased a 14% share of homes in April, unchanged from March, and down from 18% during the same month a year ago. Some 71% of investors paid in cash in April, compared to 70% in March, and 67% in February and January. The awaited withdrawal of cash investors will create more opportunity for first-time buyers.
The April median sales price of $219,400 was 8.9% above the same month a year ago, and represented the 38th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. The median condominium/co-op price increased to $206,100 in April, up only 0.4% from the same month a year ago.
The Pending Home Sales Index increased 1.1% in March, so the decline in April existing home sales was not anticipated. After this one month pause, however, it is expected that existing sales will continue to improve this spring and during the balance of 2015, hopefully supported by the much awaited recovery for first-time buyers.