Existing Home Sales Numbers Highest Since 2009

Existing Home Sales Numbers Highest Since 2009The National Association of REALTORS reported that sales of existing homes in April reached 4.97 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

Although this reading fell short of Wall Street’s expectations of 5.00 million existing homes sold, it surpassed the March 2013 upwardly revised reading of 4.94 million existing home sales. This represents a 0.60 percent increase from March to April, and a 9.70 increase year-over-year.

Low Mortgage Rates Contribute To High Sales Levels 

Low mortgage rates and pent-up demand for homes are driving sales of existing homes, which reached their highest level since November 2009.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS, indicated that housing market momentum is overcoming obstacles: “The robust housing market recovery is occurring in spite of tight access to credit and limited inventory. Without these frictions, existing home sales would be well above the five million unit pace.”

Inventories of homes for sale are gradually increasing; at the end of April, the total inventory of existing homes had increased by 11.9 percent to 2.16 million existing homes for sale. This represents a 5.20 month supply of available homes in April as compared to a 4.7 month supply of homes in March 2013. Listed inventory is 13.60 percent below April 2012, when there was a 6.60 month supply of homes available.

Average Home Sales Prices Up 14 Months In A Row

The national average price for all housing types was $192,800, and increase of 11.0 percent over April 2012. This represents the fourteenth consecutive month of rising average home prices; the last time this occurred was between April 2005 and May 2006.

Homes sold through foreclosure or short sales fell by three percent to 18 percent of existing homes sold in April.  Of these sales, 11.0 percent were foreclosure sales and 7.0 percent were short sales. Foreclosure sales averaged 16.0 percent below market value and short sales averaged 14.0 percent below market value.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, provided more positive news for U.S. housing markets as of March 2013. Average home prices for homes mortgaged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased by 7.20 percent year-over-year, and were up by 1.20 percent from February 2013. FHFA also reported that home prices had risen by 6.70 percent in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the same period in 2012.

New Home Sales Show Rising Trend As Well

In related news, the Department of Commerce reports that New Home Sales are up by 2.30 percent from March to 454,000 units on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.  This handily exceeds Wall Street’s consensus of 430,000 new homes sold in April, and is also higher than March’s reading of 444,000 new homes sold.

Buyers are turning to new homes due to pent-up demand in housing markets caused by low inventories of existing homes and low mortgage rates. It’s also likely that with home prices rising, would-be buyers are acting on indications that record low rates and home prices are expected to increase.

Rising home prices suggest that as demand increases, mortgage rates may not be far behind. Buyers in the Portland  market today can still gain the advantage of historically low mortgage rates.

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Existing Home Sales Numbers Show Value Gains Across America

Existing Home Sales Show Price Gains March 2013The National Association of REALTORS® released its Existing Home Sales report for March on Monday.

Sales dipped from February’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.95 million to 4.92 million existing homes sold in March, a decrease of 0.6 percent month-to-month. 

This reading was lower than Wall Street’s consensus of 5.03 million existing homes sold, but there is also good news.

Sales of existing homes are up by 10.3 percent as compared to March 2012.

Economists note that existing home sales have performed within a narrow range of 4.90 to 4.96 million since November 2012.

This illustrates the impact of lower numbers of existing homes available for purchase in Maine and around the country.

The National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index reports builder concerns including rising materials costs, tight construction credit and lack of available developed lots for building.

Demand for Homes, Fewer Distressed Properties Driving Median Home Price Gains

The national median price for existing homes was $184,300; this is an 11.8 percent increase over March 2012. 

This was the largest year-over-year price increase since November 2005.

Low inventories of available homes for sale and fewer distressed properties on the market are supporting rising home prices.

Distressed home represented 21 percent of existing home sales in March, which was their lowest market share since data collection started in 2008.

Distressed home sales decreased from a 29 percent market share in March 2012. 

With fewer “bargain-basement” homes on the market, homeowners waiting to sell may be more willing to list their homes which could add to the numbers of existing homes available.

Regional Median Home Prices Rise

Existing home sales declined in two of four U.S. regional markets, were unchanged in one market and rose in one market.

Sales of existing homes are calculated on an annual basis.

Northeast: Sales volume for March was unchanged at 630,000 homes sold annually. The median price is $237,000. This represents a year-over-increase of 6.8 percent since March 2012.

Midwest: Sales increased by 1.8 percent to 1.16 million homes. The median price rose to $141,800, an increase of 7.8 percent year-over-year.

South: Sales volume dropped by1.5 percent to 1.95 million homes. The median home price is $161,700. This is a 10.4 percent increase as compared to March 2012.

West: Sales volume declined by 1.7 percent to 1.18 million homes. This represents an increase of 4.4 percent in existing home sales over March 2012. The median home price in the West has risen by 26.1 percent year-over-year to $258,100. This dramatic increase is attributed by high demand for homes caused by very low home inventories.

While regional median home prices rose across the board in March, regional sales volumes were varied; this suggests that if there were more homes available, there would be more buyers.