Are things changing in the real estate market?
It appears that existing-home sales recorded a third straight month of declines, slipping slightly in April, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Month-over-month sales were split amongst the four major U.S. regions, with two areas posting gains and the other two experiencing waning in April. Year-over-year sales struggled, as each of the four regions reported dips, according to a news release.
Total existing-home sales,1 completed transaction that includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, slid 2.4% from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million in April. Year-over-year, sales dropped 5.9% (5.96 million in April 2021).
“Higher home prices and sharply higher mortgage rates have reduced buyer activity,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said in the news release. “It looks like more declines are imminent in the upcoming months, and we’ll likely return to the pre-pandemic home sales activity after the remarkable surge over the past two years.”
Total housing inventory2 at the end of April amounted to 1,030,000 units, up 10.8% from March and down 10.4% from one year ago (1.15 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 1.9 months in March and down from 2.3 months in April 2021.
“Housing supply has started to improve, albeit at an extremely sluggish pace,” Yun said.
He also noted the rare state of the current marketplace.
“The market is quite unusual as sales are coming down, but listed homes are still selling swiftly, and home prices are much higher than a year ago,” Yun said.
“Moreover, an increasing number of buyers with short tenure expectations could opt for 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages, thereby assuring fixed payments over five years because of the rate reset,” he added. “The cash buyers, not impacted by mortgage rate changes, remain elevated.”
The median existing-home price3 for all housing types in April was $391,200, up 14.8% from April 2021 ($340,700), as prices increased in each region. This marks 122 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.
Properties typically remained on the market for 17 days in April, equal to both the number of days in March 2022 and in April 2021. Eighty-eight percent of homes sold in April 2022 were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 28% of sales in April, down from 30% in March and 31% in April 2021. NAR’s 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20214 – reported that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34%.
All-cash sales accounted for 26% of transactions in April, down from 28% in March and up from the 25% recorded in April 2021.
Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 17% of homes in April, down from 18% in March and equal to 17% in April 2021.
Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented less than 1% of sales in April, equal to the percentage seen in March and down from 2% in April 2021.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.98% in April, up from 4.17% in March. The average commitment rate across all of 2021 was 2.96%.
Realtor.com’s Market Trends Report in April shows that the largest year-over-year median list price growth occurred in Miami (+38.3%), Las Vegas (+32.6%), and Orlando (+30.7%). Austin reported the highest growth in the share of homes that had their prices reduced compared to last year (+6.8 percentage points), followed by Las Vegas (+5.3 percentage points) and Sacramento (+4.7 percentage points).
Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales
Single-family home sales decreased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million in April, down 2.5% from 5.12 million in March and down 4.8% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $397,600 in April, up 14.8% from April 2021.
Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 620,000 units in April, down 1.6% from March and down 13.9% from one year ago. The median existing condo price was $340,000 in April, an annual increase of 13.1%.
“As we find ourselves in the midst of a massive housing shortage, NAR continues to work with leaders across the private and public sectors to help close this deficit,” said NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, a Realtor from Plano, Texas, and a broker associate at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas in the news release. “As the nation’s largest real estate association, we are urging policymakers to enact zoning reforms, homebuilder incentives, and other necessary regulations to help correct this situation.”
Existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 1.5% in April, reaching an annual rate of 670,000, a 10.7% drop from April 2021. The median price in the Northeast was $412,100, up 8.1% from one year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest grew 3.1% from the prior month to an annual rate of 1,310,000 in April, a 1.5% slide from April 2021. The median price in the Midwest was $282,000, an 8.7% increase from one year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South fell 4.6% in April, posting an annual rate of 2,490,000, which represents a decrease of 5.7% from one year ago. The median price in the South was $352,100, a 22.2% climb from one year prior. For the eighth consecutive month, the South recorded the highest pace of price appreciation in comparison to the other three regions. Additionally, the South is the only region to report year-over-year double-digit price gains, the news release added.
Existing-home sales in the West dipped 5.8% compared to the previous month, registering an annual rate of 1,140,000 in April, down 8.1% from one year ago. The median price in the West was $523,000, up 4.3% from April 2021.
1 Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR benchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.
Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90% of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40% of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.
The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.
Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when the monthly collection of condo data began. Before this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales before 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.
2 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (before 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90% of transactions, and condos were measured only every quarter).
3 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.
The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.
4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s REALTORS Confidence Index, which includes all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.
5 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on the market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions, and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s REALTORS Confidence Index, posted at nar.realtor.