U.S. Home Sales Update as Prices Hit Record High 

As home prices and mortgage rates remain high, existing-home sales fell in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. All four major U.S. areas had month-over-month reductions. Sales fell year-over-year in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, but rose in the West.

Total existing-home sales (completed deals involving single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops) fell 1.9% from March to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.14 million in April. Year on year, sales declined 1.9% (from 4.22 million in April 2023).

“Existing home sales slipped 1.9% in April, bringing the sales pace to 4.14 million homes,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com. “This pace was also down 1.9% compared to one year ago, signaling the ongoing headwinds that buyers and sellers face. While the nationwide housing market remains in seller-friendly territory, rising for-sale inventory is slowly nudging the market in a more buyer-friendly direction as months supply hit 3.5 months, up from 3.0 months one year ago and 3.2 months in March.”

Hale added that the median sales price increased an estimated 5.7% from a year ago to $407,600—hitting a new April high—despite the fact that listing prices had fallen.

Regional Breakdown

  • Existing-home sales in the Northeast waned 4% from March to an annual rate of 480,000 in April, a decline of 4% from April 2023. The median price in the Northeast was $458,500, up 8.5% from the previous year.
  • In the Midwest, existing-home sales slipped 1% from one month ago to an annual rate of 1 million in April, down 1% from one year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $303,600, up 6% from April 2023.
  • Existing-home sales in the South descended 1.6% from March to an annual rate of 1.9 million in April, down 3.1% from the prior year. The median price in the South was $366,200, up 3.7% from last year.
  • In the West, existing-home sales retracted 2.6% from a month ago to an annual rate of 760,000 in April, an increase of 1.3% from one year before. The median price in the West was $629,600, up 9.3% from April 2023.

According to the monthly REALTORS Confidence Index:

  • Properties typically remained on the market for 26 days in April, down from 33 days in March but up from 22 days in April 2023.
  • First-time buyers were responsible for 33% of sales in April, up from 32% in March and 29% in April 2023. NAR’s 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers—released in November 20234—found that the annual share of first-time buyers was 32%.
  • All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions in April, identical to March and one year ago. Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 16% of homes in April, up from 15% in March but down from 17% in April 2023.
  • Distressed sales—foreclosures and short sales—represented 2% of sales in April, virtually unchanged from last month and the prior year.

Will Home Prices Moderate?

“Home sales changed little overall, but the upper-end market is experiencing a sizable gain due to more supply coming onto the market,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Home prices reaching a record high for the month of April is very good news for homeowners. However, the pace of price increases should taper off since more housing inventory is becoming available.”

Total housing inventory at the end of April was 1.21 million units, up 9% from March and 16.3% from the previous year (1.04 million). At the current sales pace, unsold inventory stands at 3.5 months, up from 3.2 months in March and 3.0 months in April 2023. Inventory and sales of homes priced at $1 million or more climbed by 34% and 40%, respectively, compared to the previous year.

“Mortgage rates tumbled from late October through mid-January and held through early February at some of the lowest rates since May 2023,” Hale said. “By mid-February, however, a pick-up in inflation reset expectations and put mortgage rates back on an upward trend. There were ups and downs in mortgage rates throughout March, before another inflation-driven mid-month surge in April. More recent inflation data showed a reversal of this trend and has driven some mortgage-rate relief, but buyers who closed on homes in April, and likely locked mortgage rates in March, faced a fair amount of mortgage rate uncertainty and generally higher rates. These conditions were likely a drag on overall home sales. Nevertheless, first-time buyers continue to find opportunities, and accounted for 33% of sales in April, up from 32% in March and 29% in April 2023.”

According to Hale, joint research conducted by Realtor.com and the National Association of Realtors, markets with low affordability, such as Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida; and Salt Lake City will see the greatest increase in affordability, while currently affordable markets, such as Pittsburgh and Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan, are expected to see smaller affordability improvements.

To read the full report, including more data, charts, and methodology, click here.

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Demetria C. Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for MortgagePoint (formerly DS News and MReport) with more than eight years of writing and editing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is a jazz aficionado, Harry Potter fanatic, and likes to read. She can be reached at demetria.lester@thefivestar.com.
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