U.S. existing home sales highest in three years

Existing-home sales are at the highest pace since November 2009 when the market spiked to 5.44 million in response to the home buyer tax credit.  Total sales have been above year-ago levels for 22 consecutive months, while prices show 14 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases.

Existing-home sales rose in April but remain below underlying demand because of limited inventory and tight credit, according to the National Association of Realtors.  All regions are showing strong price gains from a year ago.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million in April from an upwardly revised 4.94 million in March.  Resale activity is 9.7 percent above the 4.53 million-unit level in April 2012.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market is solidly recovering.  “The robust housing market recovery is occurring in spite of tight access to credit and limited inventory.  Without these frictions, existing-home sales easily would be well above the 5-million unit pace,” he said.  “Buyer traffic is 31 percent stronger than a year ago, but sales are running only about 10 percent 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.”

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