For the first time this year, existing-home sales and total inventory increased in April, while home price growth continued to moderate.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total existing-home sales, which the group defines as single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, rose 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million in April 2014.
Existing-home sales in April increased from March's total of 4.59 million, but sales in April are still 6.8 percent below the 4.99 million properties sold in April 2013.
"Some growth was inevitable after sub-par housing activity in the first quarter, but improved inventory is expanding choices and sales should generally trend upward from this point," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Annual home sales, however, due to a sluggish first quarter, will likely be lower than last year."
Total existing housing inventory as of the end of April rose 16.8 percent to 2.29 million. The inventory at the end of April represented a 5.9-month supply, up from a 5.1 month supply in March. Unsold inventory is 6.5 percent higher than last year, when there was a 5.2-month supply.
"We'll continue to see a balancing act between housing inventory and price growth, which remains stronger than normal simply because there have not been enough sellers in many areas. More inventory and increased new-home construction will help to foster healthy market conditions," Yun added.
On average, properties were on the market for 48 days in April, down from 55 days in March but up 43 days from April 2013.
Home prices also slowed for the month, finally settling on a median home price of $201,700. Year-over-year, home prices have increased by 5.2 percent. "Current price data suggests a trend of slower growth, which bodes well for preserving favorable affordability conditions in much of the country," Yun noted.
Ten percent of sales in April were foreclosures, and 5 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average of 16 percent below market value while short sales saw an average discounted price of 10 percent, according to NAR.
Regionally, existing-home sales were unchanged in the Northeast at an annual rate of 600,000 in April. Home sales slipped in the Midwest by 1.0 percent to a pace of 1.03 million but increased in the South by 1.0 percent to an annual level of 1.94 million. The West region saw an increase as well, up 4.9 percent to 1.08 million.