By Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

 
It’s been a good spring for housing markets. The latest data show sales of existing homes climbed for the first time this year in April, inventory levels increased and home price growth slowed.
 
Home sales climbed 1.3% to a rate of 4.65 million in April from 4.59 million in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. While volume still trends below 2013 levels, the monthly tempo change reflects healthy demand and improving inventory.
 
More to buy, higher prices
 
The number of available homes for sale jumped 16.8% to 2.29 million existing homes in April.  This continues to be a closely watched number because in the markets that have bounced back to pre-recession levels, lack of home supply is what’s been pressing the gas on price increases.
 
Unsold inventory stands at a 5.9-month supply at the current sales pace – 6.5% higher than a year ago.
 
We need more to satisfy and sustain demand in hotter markets like Silicon Valley and the entire Bay Area where affordability remains a concern.
 
The median existing home price nationwide in April was $201,700, which is 5.2% above the same month a year ago. The rate of growth slowed a bit from last year, when the median price was 8.6% above a year earlier. But we’re still seeing price increases in areas that are becoming more and more out of reach for average household incomes.
 
How fast can you sell?
 
NAR points out that the average time it takes to sell a home was less than a month in April for four out of 10 homes. The median time on market for all homes was 48 days in April, down from 55 days in March; it was 43 days on market in April 2013.
 
That’s great news for sellers, who at the depths of the downturn were waiting 60+ days at the least.
 
Borrowing still cheap
 
Interest rates continue to offer great deals for buyers. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.34% in April, unchanged from March. True, this number was more like 3.45% a year ago. But we’re still below 5%, which is affordable borrowing for many people.
 
Overall, we’re in a good spot with housing right now – although location still determines a lot for the state your market is in. We expect this to continue through the end of the year.

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