A sign hangs for sale in front of a house for sale on March 18, 2022 in San Anselmo, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Sales of previously owned homes fell in April to the lowest pace since the start of the Covid pandemic, according to the National Association of Retailers.
The group said existing home sales fell 2.4% from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million units. Sales were 5.9% lower than in April 2021. This is the slowest rate since June 2020, which has been artificially slow as the economy has been experiencing widespread lockdowns due to the coronavirus.
This number represents closings during the month, so it reflects contracts likely to be signed in February and March, when mortgage rates were on the rise. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate started at 3.66% in February and ended in March at 4.78%, according to daily mortgage news. It is now hovering around 5.45%.
“We are returning to pre-pandemic sales activity, but I expect further declines,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, noting that rates are higher now than when those contracts were signed.
Buyers were not only resistant to price hikes, but they saw little comfort in the shortage of homes for sale. Inventory at the end of April was 1.03 million homes for sale, down 10.4% from April 2021. At the current sales pace representing 2.2 months of supply.
A tight supply has kept home prices high, despite rising interest rates. The median price for an existing home sold in April was $391,200, the highest price on record and a 14.8% increase over last year.
This average tends to be higher because sales continue to be more robust at the higher end of the market, where supply is more robust. Sales of homes between $100,000 and $250,000 are down 29% year over year, while sales of homes between $500,000 and $750,000 are up 19%. Sales of homes over $1 million are up 16% year over year.
Sales continued to be fast with the average home remaining on the market just 17 days before the contract was entered into. All-cash sale remained high at 25% of total sales. Investors made up 17% of sales, and first-time buyers made up only 28%. Historically, first-time buyers have accounted for about 40% of the market.
“The number of families interested in becoming homeowners remains high, although confidence that now is the time to buy is waning. This is especially true for younger home shoppers, who are more likely to be first-time buyers and struggle to save for a lower price tag,” she said. Danielle Hill, Chief Economist at Realtor.com: “Payment as rents continue to rise to record levels.” “At the same time, sellers’ expectations for higher down payments appear to be rising, fueled by the still-competitive housing market and repeat buyers with more a proportion of the stock at their disposal.”
Sales of newly built homes will be announced next week, but mortgage applications for those homes are down nearly 11% during the month compared to April 2021, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
“New home buying activity fell on a monthly and yearly basis in April, as a sharp rise in mortgage rates dented demand and homebuilders continued to face rising costs, supply chain issues, and extended completion timelines,” said Joel Kahn, associate MBA. “. Vice President of Economic and Industrial Forecasting.
The MBA expects new home sales to fall for the fifth consecutive month to the slowest pace since May 2020.
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