Home sales slipped unexpectedly in April, despite big gains in supply

Real Estate

Homes in the Issaquah Highlands area of Issaquah, Washington, US, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. 
David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sales of previously owned homes fell 1.9% in April from March to 4.14 million units, on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, according to the National Association of Realtors. The forecast had been for a slight gain.

Sales were also down from April 2023, off 1.9% from last year.

These sales are based on closings, so contracts likely signed in February and March. Mortgage rates jumped at the start of February and then held around 7% for the next two months before moving even higher in April.

“When we see these mortgage rates, which is a 300 basis point increase from pre-Covid pace, we are in a new territory as to how the lock-in effect will restrain home sales,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors.

Total housing inventory at the end of April was 1.21 million units, up 9% month to month and up 16% from the year before, but still just a 3.5-month supply at the current sales pace. A 6-month supply is considered balanced between buyer and seller. The supply of homes priced over $1 million, however, was up 40% year over year, which is why that segment of the market is most active.

Sales of homes priced below $100,000 fell 7.1% year over year, while sales of those priced over $1 million jumped 40%.

Tight supply kept prices under pressure. The median price of an existing home sold in April was $407,600, an increase of 5.7% year over year. That is another record high price for April. With multiple offers, due to strong demand, 27% of homes sold above list price.

“Home prices reaching a record high for the month of April is very good news for homeowners,” said Yun. “However, the pace of price increases should taper off since more housing inventory is becoming available.”

First-time buyers made a slight comeback, making up 33% of April sales, up from 29% the year before. The all-cash share was still relatively high, at 28% of all transactions.

Regionally, sales in the Northeast fell 4% from March and 4% from April 2023. The median price in the Northeast was $458,500, up 8.5% year over year.

In the Midwest, sales dropped 1% month to month and were also down 1% year over year. The median price in the Midwest was $303,600, up 6% from April 2023.

Sales in the South dropped 1.6% from March and 3.1% from the year before. The median price in the South was $366,200, up 3.7% from last year.

And in the West, sales were down 2.6% for the month and rose 1.3% from one year before. The median price in the West was $629,600, up 9.3% from April 2023.

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