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U.S. home buyers signed more contracts to buy existing properties in April. A monthly index of so-called "pending" home sales from the National Association of Realtors rose 3.4 percent from March to the highest level in nine years. Pending sales are now up 14 percent from a year ago.
"Realtors are saying foot traffic remains elevated this spring, despite limited-and in some cases severe-inventory shortages in many metro areas," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors.
Regionally, April pending home sales in the Northeast finally bounced back, up 10.1 percent from March. In the Midwest, sales increased 5 percent, in the South increased 2.3 percent and in the West moved just 0.1 percent higher.
While interest rates moved sharply higher at the beginning of May, they didn't move much at all in April, when these buyers were out shopping. The average contract interest rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage hovered right around 3.65 percent, relatively low. Rates are now sitting closer to 4 percent.
Closed sales of existing homes fell unexpectedly; Realtors blamed tight supply of listings and rising home prices. The median price of an existing home sold in April was $219,400, an 8.9 percent increase from one year ago.
"Homeowners looking to sell this spring appear to be in the drivers seat, as there are more buyers competing for a limited number of homes available for sale," added Yun. "As a result, home prices are up and accelerating in many markets."