Sales, prices, and inventories all
showed some signs of life in April.
Redfin said today that median home prices were up in all markets on an
annual basis, a national increase of 9.4 percent. While home sales are down by 7.6 percent
year-over-year, sales did improve by 12.4 percent over their weak sales
performance in March. There were 5.2
percent more homes for sale in April 2014 than in the previous April and 3.7
percent from the prior month. This means,
Redfin said, that buyers have more options in some markets.
While home prices have risen for 28
straight months, the size of the increases has steadily diminished from the 20
percent annual gains that were happening in late 2012. From March to April the median sale price
rose 3.6 percent. During the same period
in 2013 the gain was 4.6 percent. Redfin
called the annual increase in April, 9.4 percent, strong and healthy and one
that was more consistent across cities. "When some cities have 25 percent price gains while other
cities are flat or down in price, it can lead to difficulty for buyers, sellers
and even banks financing mortgages," the Redfin report says. "If all cities share stable and sustainable
housing price appreciation, the whole economy stands to benefit."
The April gains in home sales were geographically uneven. Atlanta and Oakland had sales that were more
than 4 percent higher than in the previous April and Tacoma was up slightly but
nine metro areas had double-digit annual declines in home sales, notably Las
Vegas which was down 16.4 percent, Philadelphia, 16.3 percent, and Long Island,
15.2 percent lower.
While the inventory of available
homes was up nationally Redfin said the situation does not look great across
many markets. Markets with the highest
demand have seen inventory tighten further. In Denver the inventory is off 18.6 percent
and in San Francisco 16.0 percent.
Austin, Portland, Oregon and Raleigh-Durham have also seen a tightening of
5 to 10 percent.
Redfin said that with half of all
markets experiencing a year-over-year decline in homes for sale, things are
still difficult. Buyers and potential sellers who want to trade up are asking, "Where
is all the inventory?" The tight
inventory, rising prices, and higher interest rates are all contributing to
home affordability challenges. While the balance of power has recently shifted a
bit to the buyer side, Redfin said 2014 still looks like it will present a
competitive housing market.