Existing-home sales decreased 0.4% in April compared with March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
That’s down 4.4% compared with 5.43 million in April 2018.
Regionally, sales fell 4.5% in the Northeast and 0.4% in the South, compared with March, but grew 1.8% in the West. Sales were basically flat month-over-month in the Midwest.
NAR includes sales of single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops with its results.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, says he is not overly concerned about the 0.4% dip in sales and expects moderate growth very soon.
“First, we are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy, so buyers will look to take advantage of these conditions,” Yun says in a statement. “Also, job creation is improving, causing wage growth to align with home price growth, which helps affordability and will help spur more home sales.”
The median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $267,300, up 3.6% from $257,900 in April 2018.
April’s price increase marks the 86th straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory as of the end of April was 1.83 million, up from 1.67 million in March.
That’s about a 4.2-month supply at the current sales pace.
“We see that the inventory totals have steadily improved, and will provide more choices for those looking to buy a home,” Yun says.
He notes that sellers must realize that price growth has moderated.
“When placing their home on the market, home sellers need to be very realistic and aware of the current conditions,” he says.
Properties remained on the market for an average of 24 days in April, down from 36 days in March and down from 26 days a year ago. Fifty-three percent of homes sold in April were on the market for less than a month.
Yun says that college student debt continues to hinder millennial homebuyers.
“Given the record high job openings in the construction sector, some may want to take a gap year to work there and save, and thereby lessen the student debt burden,” he says.
Also helping to potentially boost sales in May and June is that mortgage rates continue to moderate.
The average rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.14% in April, down from 4.27% in March.
The average commitment rate across all of 2018 was 4.54%.
First-time buyers counted for 32% of home sales in April, down from 33% in March.
All-cash sales accounted for 20% of transactions, down from 21% March.