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News in Housing: Inventories up in April

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By Steve Cook

The housing inventory rose slightly in April, which is unusual in the middle of the spring sales season. The uptick may be the result of rising seller confidence and it should ease concerns that the super tight inventory levels of the last six months have dampened sales by limiting buyer options.

Yesterday the National Association of Realtors® reported the total housing inventory at the end of April increased 9.5 percent from the previous month to 2.54 million existing homes for sale, from 2.32 million homes in March. At the current sales rate, the April 2012 inventory represents a 6.6-month supply which is up from a 6.2-month supply in March, but much improved from the 9.1-month supply of 3.2 million homes a year ago. NAR reported 28 percent of April 2012 sales were distressed sales, defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. This level was down from 29 percent in March and 37 percent a year ago. The median sales price of existing homes rose to $177,400 in April 2012, up 10.1 percent from the same period a year ago.

Other reports confirm that inventories are moving up slightly. Realtor.com’s inventory increased 2.04 percent from last month, but is still down 18.85 percent from a year ago. HousingTracker’s weekly survey of 54 markets reports a 0.1 percent uptick as of May 21, but inventories are down 21 percent on the year. The lowest housing inventory level ever seen on Housing Tracker was 853,607 in January.

In Realtor.com’s database, the markets with the fastest growing inventories on a monthly basis in April were Iowa City, Iowa (11.39 percent); Boulder-Longmont, Colo. (10.65 percent); Trenton, N.J. (10.62 percent); Washington, DC (9.9 percent); Columbia, Mo. (9.06 percent); Rochester, N.Y. (7.84 percent); Boston, Mass. (7.73 percent); Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo. (7.53 percent); Austin-San Marcos, Texas (7.41 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (7.38 percent). All except Trenton and Cincinnati had increases in their year-over-year median list prices in April.

For more information, visit www.realestateeconomywatch.com.

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