Low inventory pushed existing-home sales down in April and sped up the median number of days a home sat on the market to a new low of 29 days, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. That is the shortest timeframe since NAR began tracking such data in May 2011. The previous record was 32 days, which was reached last May.
Though homes are selling faster, inventory woes persist. Total existing-home sales—which are completed transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—decreased 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million in April. However, sales are still 1.6 percent higher than a year ago.
“Last month’s dip in closings was somewhat expected given that there was such a strong sales increase in March at 4.2 percent, and new and existing inventory is not keeping up with the fast pace of homes coming off the market,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Demand is easily outstripping supply in most of the country, and it’s stymieing many prospective buyers from finding a home to purchase.”
Here’s a closer look at how existing-home sales fared across the country in April:
Northeast: Existing-home sales decreased 2.7 percent to an annual rate of 730,000. Sales are now 2.7 percent below a year ago. Median price: $267,700, up 1.6 percent from a year ago.
Midwest: Existing-home sales rose 3.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.36 million in April. Sales are 0.7 percent below a year ago. Median price: $194,500, up 7.8 percent from a year ago.
South: Existing-home sales dropped 5 percent to an annual rate of 2.3 million but are 3.6 percent higher than a year ago. Median price: $217,700, up 7.9 percent from a year ago.
West: Existing-home sales decreased 3.3 percent to an annual rate of 1.18 million in April, but are still 3.5 percent above a year ago. Median price: $358,600, up 6.8 percent from April 2016.
Total housing inventory at the end of April stood at 1.93 million existing homes available for sale, NAR reported. That’s 9 percent lower than a year ago, when inventory stood at 2.12 million. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory is at a 4.2-month supply.
“REALTORS® continue to voice the frustration their clients are experiencing because of the insufficient number of homes for sale,” Yun says. “Homes in the lower- and mid-market price range are hard to find in most markets, and when one is listed for sale, interest is immediate and multiple offers are nudging the eventual sales prices higher.”
Here are a few additional housing indicators from NAR’s latest report:
- The median existing-home price for all housing types last month was $244,800, up 0.6 percent from a year ago.
- Short sales took the longest to sell at a median of 88 days on the market in April. Foreclosures sold in a median of 46 days. Foreclosures and short sales comprised 5 percent of sales in April, down from 7 percent a year ago. Broken out, 3 percent of sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value, while short sales were discounted 12 percent.
- First-time home buyers comprised 34 percent of sales in April, matching the highest percentage since last September.
- All-cash transactions made up 21 percent of sales in April, down from 24 percent a year ago. Individual investors make up the biggest bulk of cash sales. They purchased 15 percent of homes, up from 13 percent a year ago.