Existing-home sales up slightly

The number of existing-home sales increased 0.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million, compared with an upwardly revised 4.94 million in March.

The figures were released Wednesday morning by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales remain below underlying demand because of limited inventory and tight credit, according to the NAR.

“The robust housing market recovery is occurring in spite of tight access to credit and limited inventory,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Without these frictions, existing-home sales easily would be well above the 5-million unit pace,” he said. “Buyer traffic is 31% stronger than a year ago, but sales are running only about 10% higher. It’s become quite clear that the only way to tame price growth to a manageable, healthy pace is higher levels of new home construction.”

All regions are showing strong price gains from a year ago.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $192,800 in April, up 11.0% from April 2012. The last time there were 14 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from April 2005 to May 2006.

NAR president Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif., said market conditions have flipped in the past year. “With homes selling in half the time it took to sell a year ago, buyers must be both decisive and prudent,” he said. “Advice with contract terms and negotiations is where the expertise of a Realtor shines for both buyers and sellers.”