Existing home sales lower in April as low supply adds pressure
There were fewer sales of existing homes in April according to new data from the National Association of Realtors. The number of completed transactions was down 3.3 per cent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million from an upwardly-revised 5.21 million in March. Sales are however still more than 6 per cent higher than a year ago. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says that supply is not keeping pace with demand and that’s putting upward pressure on prices but “the overall data and feedback we're hearing from realtors continues to point to elevated levels of buying interest compared to a year ago. With low interest rates and job growth, more buyers will be encouraged to enter the market unless prices accelerate even higher in relation to incomes."
Although there were 10 per cent more properties on the market in April than in March, supply is still 0.9 per cent lower than a year ago with median prices increasing to $219,400, 8.9 per cent higher than a year ago. The increase in downpayment and mortgage repayments is putting off some would-be buyers however the proportion of first-time buyers in April was unchanged at 30 per cent.
Fannie Mae downgrades economic forecast but housing looks stronger
The US economy grow in the second quarter and the second half of the year but consumers remain cautious. Fannie Mae’s economic outlook suggests that the stronger dollar and other economic conditions will mean growth of 2.3 per cent for the year, a downgrade of 0.5 per cent from its previous outlook. However it notes that “housing is one sector that appears to be building momentum, with leading indicators suggesting the market will experience a solid spring season.” Chief economist Doug Duncan commented: “Purchase mortgage applications have moved up consistently for a couple of months, and while refinance applications have recently pulled back, the actual volume of both purchase and refinance originations earlier in the year came in stronger than we had projected. As a result, we have raised our mortgage origination forecast to $1.46 trillion for the year.”
Brad and Angelina selling Big Easy home
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are selling their mansion in New Orleans but remain committed to the city. Zillow reports that the couple bought the French Quarter home in 2006 and have listed it for $5.6 million. Despite selling the 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom home they want to stay in the area but want something “off the beaten track”.