Key takeaways

  • Existing-home sales in April 2024 fell 1.9 percent from March and are also down by 1.9 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.
  • The nationwide median sale price was $407,600, up 5.7 percent from March 2023 and a record high for the month of April.
  • Inventory in April rose to a 3.5-month supply, a level still considered a seller's market.

The housing market again showed a slowdown in sales but a rise in prices in April, a new report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows. Sales of existing homes fell 1.9 percent both month-over-month and year-over-year, despite more listings hitting the market. The annual pace of home sales spiked to 4.38 million in February but slowed to an annual rate of 4.19 million units in March — and that pace slowed further in April to 4.14 million.

“Home sales changed little overall, but the upper-end market is experiencing a sizable gain due to more supply coming onto the market,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

High mortgage rates certainly contribute to the sluggish sales figures. While rates have remained below the 8 percent mark briefly seen in October 2023, they are still above 7 percent. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan was 7.12 percent as of May 15, according to Bankrate’s most recent survey of large lenders. That, combined with near-record-high prices, means affordability challenges remain daunting for homebuyers.

However, in a bit of good news, the share of first-time homebuyers inched up to 33 percent in April, up from 32 percent in March and 26 percent in February.

The fate of the housing market in the coming months will be dictated in part by the direction of mortgage rates. — Mark Hamrick, Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst

“The fate of the housing market in the coming months will be dictated in part by the direction of mortgage rates, as well as the health of the broader economy,” says Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s senior economic analyst. “The market could benefit from a combination of tailwinds, if they were to develop and are sustained.”

Existing-home sales tick downward

The count of existing-home sales includes all completed resales, including single-family houses, condos, townhouses and co-ops. According to NAR, the number of sales nationally fell 1.9 percent month over month to an annual pace of 4.14 million transactions in April 2024. It’s also a decrease of 1.9 percent from a year earlier.

Regionally, April sales fell the most in the Northeast, down 4 percent both month-over-month and year-over-year. In the West, sales were down 2.6 percent from March but up 1.3 percent from last year. The South saw a 1.6 percent drop from last month and a drop of 3.1 percent from the previous year, while the Midwest fell only 1 percent on both the month and the year.

Days on market

Properties typically remained on the market for 26 days in April, a healthy decrease from 33 days in March. But in April 2023, that figure was just 22 days. Selling times are a crucial measure at any time of year, but especially during the spring selling season.

Home prices rise for 10th consecutive month

The nationwide median sale price for existing homes in April clocked in at $407,600, up 5.7 percent from last year and the 10th month in a row to record year-over-year increases. This was the highest-priced April on record, according to NAR.

Yun expects these price increases to ease as more inventory hits the market. “Home prices reaching a record high for the month of April is very good news for homeowners,” he said. “However, the pace of price increases should taper off since more housing inventory is becoming available.”

The pace of price increases should taper off since more housing inventory is becoming available. — Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

In June 2022, the median price hit its highest-ever recorded price at $413,800. The U.S. housing market had been on a remarkable run of 131 consecutive months of year-over-year median sale price increases — the longest-running streak since NAR started keeping records — before finally dropping year-over-year in February 2023. April’s median price is only about $6,000 shy of that all-time high.

All four geographic regions experienced annual price increases in April. The West continued to have the highest median price by far at $629,600, up 9.3 percent from a year ago. In the Northeast, the median rose 8.5 percent from a year ago to $458,500. The South’s median price rose 3.7 percent to $366,200, and the Midwest’s median rose 6 percent to $303,600.

Housing inventory on the rise, but still too low

Total housing inventory — the overall number of homes for sale on the market — stood at 1.21 million units at the end of April. That’s an improvement, up 9 percent from March and 16.3 percent from a year ago. Even so, it represents only a 3.5-month supply, which is still short of the five to six months typically required for a healthier, more balanced market.

The sharp rise in mortgage rates seen this past fall has kept many homeowners from selling, which keeps existing homes off the market. Those who locked in rates at 3 percent several years ago, understandably, are not keen on moving with current rates more than double that. And rates may not dip significantly anytime soon, says A&D Mortgage founder and CEO Max Slyusarchuk. “Homebuyers are waiting on the sidelines for rates to lower, and the Fed signaled that this won’t happen until September, which is putting a damper on potential home sales,” he says.