Existing home sales rise in April for first time this year

Sales of previously owned homes rise in April and provide a jolt to a slowing housing market

Sales of previously owned homes rose nationwide in April as the housing market picked up some steam amid the spring selling season.

Existing home sales climbed 1.3% from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million, the National Assn. of Realtors reported Thursday. That was the first gain this year, though it missed expectations slightly.

The uptick from March came as the housing market has shown signs of cooling recently and sales declined. Would-be buyers have struggled to afford a home after prices surged last year.

“Some growth was inevitable after sub-par housing activity in the first quarter, but improved inventory is expanding choices and sales should generally trend upward from this point,” Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, said in a statement.

But compared with April 2013, sales were still down 6.8%. Yun said there would probably be fewer sales this year than 2013, citing the poor first quarter.

Inventory, meanwhile, expanded in April. There was a 5.9-month supply of homes for sale last month -- meaning if homes sold at their current pace, all properties currently on the market would be sold in that time period -- compared with a 5.1-month supply in March.

Economists generally consider a six-month supply to be healthy.

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