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Don’t Break Out the Home Seller Hankies—Existing-Home Sales Down, Prices Still Up

Don’t Break Out the Home Seller Hankies—Existing-Home Sales Down, Prices Still Up

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April was the cruelest month for home sales in a while. Even though they’ve been selling at hotcake pace, faster than at any time since July 2013, all parts of the country save for the Midwest saw sales declines last month, reports the National Association of Realtors®. Sales dropped 3.3% to 5.04 million in April, from 5.21 million in March. If you go back further, though, things are still looking good: Sales are up 6.1% from a year ago.

What does this mean for you? Depends on if you’re a buyer or seller, of course. With tight supply and rising prices, says our own chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, homes have been snatched up quickly, bidding wars have become the norm, and prices are soaring. With more houses staying on the market longer, there’s a chance supply and demand will align a little bit more.

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But don’t break out those home seller hankies quite yet. Says Smoke, “It’s still a solid seller’s market, and demand is growing faster than supply.” As NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said, “Roughly 40% of properties sold last month went at or above asking price, the highest since NAR began tracking this monthly data in December 2012.”

The median existing-home sale price in April was $ 219,400, 8.9% higher than a year ago and, yikes, the 38th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, and the largest, since January 2014. All-cash sales accounted for 24% of sales, same as March but down a bunch, from 32% a year ago. That means more average Americans who need a mortgage might have room to play, with fewer individual investors (4% less than last year) crashing the party.

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