There’s No Reason to Panic About Rising Mortgage Rates

Over the past few weeks, mortgage rates have spiked, sending potential homeowners shrieking through the streets in uncontrollable panic.

Okay, that last part might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you’d never know it by reading the mainstream media. Don’t believe me? Google the term “mortgage rates spike” and you’ll have more than enough material to last you through the summer.

Mortgage rates are still ridiculously cheap

The reality is that yes, mortgage rates have gone up. And yes, they’ve gone up a lot from where they were two months ago. But should you, as either a potential home buyer or home seller, be concerned? In a word: no.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

What’s lost in the discussion about the recent rise in mortgage rates is what it says about the broader economy.

Two months ago, the interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.35 percent. Not only was that cheap, it was historically cheap, like, once-in-a-lifetime cheap. Never before, and perhaps never again, will we see rates sink to such a ridiculously low level.

Why were they so low? Because the Federal Reserve, which has been putting downward pressure on mortgage rates since last September, had no confidence in the economy.

If anything, then, the fact that they are rising — at the behest of the central bank, I might add — can only mean one thing: The economy is getting better.

The Housing Recovery Won’t Be Thwarted

The biggest concern is that rising rates will put a damper on the housing recovery and therefore be bad for people who are trying to sell their homes. The fact that this is transpiring during the prime selling season only adds to this fear.

But here’s the thing: The impact on the housing market will likely be much less than one might think.

The vast majority of mortgages that have been underwritten over the past few years have been to people who are refinancing existing homes, not to people looking to buy new ones. As a result, when mortgage rates rose, the former dropped off considerably more than the latter.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the volume of applications to refinance mortgages has dropped by 53 percent since the beginning of May. Meanwhile, the volume of applications for purchase-money mortgages has declined by only 8 percent.

In other words, the impact on the demand for new and existing homes has, at least thus far, been comparatively muted.

To be fair, the same cannot necessarily be said for prospective homebuyers. If you fall into this category, it can’t be denied that you missed an opportunity to get a mortgage at an interest rate that we may never see again.

At the same time, mortgage rates are still ridiculously cheap. The most recent national average puts the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.51 percent. As the Wall Street Journal noted, even at a 5 percent interest rate, housing is still affordable by historical standards.

Ask anyone who bought a house before 2010 what they think of that rate. “Jump all over it,” they’ll say. Prior to last year, that would have been the lowest rate in recorded history. And chances are, the same will be true going forward.

Yes, mortgage rates have spiked. But let’s keep those increases in perspective.

SOURCE: Daily Finance

33 Day Market Time All Hallmark Listings Sold

Hallmark Idaho Properties in alliance with Cablela’s Trophy Properties is proud to announce that YTD for 2013, all company listings sold and closed had a market time of just 33 days from date of listing to contract sale date.

Utilizing a series of marketing strategies and systems, plus working hard at working with servicing other real estate agents within the local community has been essential in achieving such positive sales results.

While complying in the information is was also noted the many of the listed properties had multiple offers for sellers to choose from with many sales prices above the asking price.

If your considering selling and want results, give Hallmark a call!

208-928-SOLD

Housing Inventories Rising Faster Than Usual

Here comes the housing inventory.

The number of homes listed for sale increased by 4.3% in June to 1.9 million homes, the highest level in the last year, according to data released Monday by Realtor.com.

Housing inventory has steadily declined over most of the past two years. Listings typically climb heading into the spring and summer, when housing activity hits a seasonal peak. But inventories appear to be posting larger-than-usual gains in many markets right now as they rise from their lowest levels in at least a decade. Economists say rising home prices could convince more sellers to test the market if price increases keep up.

Nationally, the number of homes listed for sale stood 7.3% below their levels of one year earlier. The year-over-year decline stood at 18.6% in February, by contrast.

Among the nation’s 30 largest markets, listings were above the levels of a year earlier in four places. All four of those markets had seen big inventory declines over the past two years. Housing inventory was up by 11% in Sacramento, Calif.; by 10.9% in Atlanta; by 6.2% in Phoenix; and by 2.2% in Miami.

Another five cities posted declines of less than the national average decline of 7.3%: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and Charlotte, N.C.

By contrast, inventories were far below last year’s level in Boston (-35.1%), Denver (-30.1%), Detroit (-25.7%), Seattle (-23.2%), and San Francisco (-21.7%).

For the last two years, real-estate agents in a growing number of markets have complained that the low supply of homes for sale has limited the number of transactions—even though the supply constraints have propelled home prices higher.

The question now is whether higher inventory will lead to higher sales volumes, and whether it will also slow the pace of home-price gains. Another wild card: how homeowners respond to mortgage rates that have jumped by at least a percentage point over the last two months.

Compared with May, inventories rose in 20 cities, according to Realtor.com. The data showed a spike in listings in Southern California, with inventories rising by 51.5% in Orange County, by 45.7% in Los Angeles and by 18.1% in San Diego.

Nationally, median asking prices rose by 0.5% in June from the previous month to $199,900, and by 5% from one year ago. Some 27 of the top 30 metro areas posted annual gains.

The Realtor.com figures include sale listings from more than 800 multiple-listing services across the country. They don’t cover all homes for sale, including those that are “for sale by owner” and newly constructed homes that aren’t always listed by the services.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, Realtor Magazine

CNBC: Idaho Ranks 10th For Best In Business

Idaho is ranked Number 5 regarding being Business FriendlyWe scored all 50 states on 51 measures of competitiveness developed with input from business groups including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness.

Idaho Ranked #3 For Most Affordable Cost of Living

States received points based on their rankings in each metric. Then, we separated those metrics into ten broad categories, weighting the categories based on how frequently they are cited in state economic development marketing materials. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

▼Overall Rank ▼State ▼Cost of Doing Business ▼Economy ▼Infrastructure ▼Workforce ▼Quality of Life ▼Technology & Innovation ▼Business Friendliness ▼Education ▼Cost of Living ▼Access to Capital
1 South Dakota 1 6 19 11 7 48 2 30 26 39
2 Texas 35 1 1 11 41 2 20 10 9 3
3 North Dakota 12 2 2 8 5 46 6 36 30 29
4 Nebraska 10 4 16 23 4 36 3 30 5 39
5 Utah 21 10 21 19 21 23 4 39 11 7
5 Virginia 38 10 21 6 18 12 6 8 20 13
7 Colorado 37 7 23 10 15 8 17 15 32 11
8 Georgia 28 19 18 1 32 17 14 8 14 5
9 Wyoming 9 15 9 16 11 47 8 20 27 39
10 Idaho 7 31 20 14 16 37 5 33 3 39
11 Iowa 13 5 28 40 14 30 9 15 16 31
12 North Carolina 32 13 31 3 30 10 18 15 20 15
13 Tennessee 14 9 2 5 49 25 18 45 2 27
14 Kansas 27 21 4 17 24 29 12 15 7 35
15 Minnesota 39 10 8 32 3 18 15 23 34 17
16 Massachusetts 47 3 40 28 13 7 21 7 43 1
17 Oregon 36 16 13 39 8 14 25 26 38 11
18 Indiana 26 32 5 27 39 24 10 13 6 25
19 Montana 5 19 12 34 12 40 43 23 30 39
20 Arizona 31 43 10 2 29 19 16 49 35 33
21 Washington 44 24 31 24 10 4 23 28 36 7
22 Wisconsin 28 34 17 40 19 19 24 13 28 21
23 South Carolina 8 35 15 9 41 26 34 36 19 19
24 Arkansas 4 18 34 7 40 38 43 15 7 37
25 Oklahoma 2 24 25 25 45 35 28 48 1 37
26 Missouri 19 17 5 48 47 22 29 20 11 23
27 New Hampshire 18 43 45 33 9 27 13 2 40 15
28 Ohio 23 22 11 47 44 16 33 12 14 17
29 Michigan 33 26 25 15 43 12 32 32 18 23
30 Florida 40 38 29 4 28 11 35 28 29 27
31 Delaware 24 27 39 30 34 39 1 34 37 14
32 Vermont 22 8 48 49 2 40 31 11 41 31
33 Alabama 6 40 27 25 45 34 37 36 13 39
33 New Mexico 15 30 23 38 26 32 47 46 25 29
35 New York 49 14 42 45 22 1 30 2 47 3
36 Kentucky 17 42 14 31 38 31 37 43 3 39
37 Illinois 44 45 5 29 30 5 36 22 23 25
38 Maine 16 46 44 43 5 32 27 27 39 33
39 Pennsylvania 44 29 33 44 33 5 41 6 33 5
40 Maryland 41 33 46 20 25 9 45 2 42 9
41 Mississippi 3 47 36 18 37 44 49 47 10 39
42 New Jersey 42 48 43 21 23 15 41 1 46 9
43 Louisiana 10 35 41 22 50 28 39 40 20 35
44 Alaska 25 23 38 36 35 50 10 35 49 39
45 Connecticut 43 39 49 37 17 21 26 5 48 19
46 Nevada 30 50 30 13 47 42 22 50 17 39
47 California 50 35 34 34 27 2 48 43 45 1
48 West Virginia 19 27 37 50 36 49 50 42 24 39
49 Rhode Island 34 49 47 42 20 42 46 23 44 21
50 Hawaii 48 41 50 45 1 45 40 40 50 39

Idaho is ranked #3 as most affordable cost of living

Mortgage Rates Poised to Jolt Up Again

Treasury Yield Post Large JumpWith the government reporting surprisingly good jobs news on Friday, the 10-year Treasury yield posted a large jump, signaling that mortgage rates may see yet another jolt higher in coming days.

The 10-year Treasury yield rose almost one-quarter of a percentage point to 2.74% on Friday. The last time there was a similar-sized jump up was in August 2011. Weekly mortgage rates, which trend in the same direction as Treasury yields, recently pulled back. But given Friday’s yield surge, this Thursday’s weekly mortgage-rate report from federally controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac could show a large gain.

Conventional 30yr Fixed  best-execution rates moved forcefully into 4.75% territory, with some lenders at 4.875%.  That means that any rate quoted on Wednesday would be roughly 0.375% higher today

The average rate on the 30-year fixed rate mortgage hit a trough of 3.35% in early May, according to Freddie Mac FMCC . Since then, the rate has increased almost one full percentage point, though levels remain relatively low.

Rising mortgage rates will make home-buying more expensive, and some buyers will have to scale back purchase plans. Goldman Sachs analysts estimated that recent mortgage-rate gains mean that for a median-priced single-family home, which costs about $200,000, borrowers who put down 20% face an increase of about $100 in their monthly mortgage payments.

Loan Originator Perspectives

” If you are choosing to float your mortgage lock in this market you definitely taking a gamble as today’s market reaction has proven. Weigh your risks vs potential gains carefully. You can’t lose with locking in and securing your loan terms. ” -Kenneth Crute Branch Manager Prime Mortgage Lending Inc

“If there was any doubt over the future direction of rates, today’s MBS reaction to June’s jobs report obliterated it. We’ve lost the most ground in one day EVER, and best execution rates may be in the 5’s soon. It’s impossible to overstate the magnitude of MBS losses in the past 2 months, and anyone who was floating a loan is in for a rude awakening when they look at current pricing.” -Ted Rood, Senior Originator, Wintrust

Mortgage News Daily, which closely tracks the market, described Friday as “among the worst days in mortgage rate history,” and said some lenders’ rates rose as high as 4.875%.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal & Mortgage Daily News

CASE-SHILLER INDEX: Home prices up 12.1% in April

Prices for U.S. homes leaped in April, posting record monthly growth and the fastest year-over-year growth in seven years, according to S&P/Case-Shiller data released Tuesday with prices jumping a record 12.1%.

From March, prices were up 2.5% for the 20-city composite index.

All 20 cities showed positive year-over-year returns for at least the fourth consecutive month.

“The recovery is definitely broad based,” said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee.

That should continue, despite rising interest rates and fears of further increases, he said, in part because some banks are easing credit restrictions.

Trulia shows prices rising nearly everywhere in the U.S.

Along with Phoenix and San Francisco, Atlanta and Las Vegas also posted year-over-year gains of more than 20% in April.

San Francisco was up almost 24%; Las Vegas, more than 22%: Phoenix, almost 22%; and Atlanta, nearly 21%.

In April, 19 of 20 cities posted positive returns. Detroit was the only metro where prices were flat.

While April’s numbers were strong, inventory levels are beginning to show signs of easing, and mortgage interest rates are creeping up.

“Going forward, both of these factors will help mitigate extreme price spikes caused by very strong housing demand and very low housing supply,” says Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries.

He says “runaway” appreciation in many of the large coastal metros that form the backbone of the Case-Shiller indices will begin to moderate.

While the Case-Shiller index measures prices for leading cities, data from real estate website Trulia shows prices rising nearly everywhere in the U.S., but even faster in cities than in the suburbs.

Based on median asking prices per square foot for all non-foreclosure listings on Trulia through May 2013, it found urban home prices up 11.3% year-over-year vs. 10.2% in the suburbs.

To read the complete report: Click Here

Housing Inventory Shortages Start to Ease

The percentage of homes for sale has risen 25 percent this year and housing inventories have started to outpace typical seasonal upticks, realtor.com® reports.

Rising home prices likely are encouraging more home sellers to test out the market. The inventory crunch may be showing signs of easing with listings rising 5.8 percent in May. Still, the number of homes for sale is low by historical standards. Listings in May are still 10 percent below year-ago levels.

The places where the number of homes for sale rose the most were Atlanta (rising 3.4 percent in May), Miami (2.8 percent), and Tuscon, Ariz. (1.8 percent).

“Even with the increases, inventories in many markets remain tight, but any easing in the extreme shortages of the past year could ultimately cool the pace at which home prices have been rising,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Meanwhile, median asking prices rose 4.8 percent nationally over year-ago levels, according to the report. Sacramento posted the highest increase in asking prices (rising 42.3 percent from April 2012) and Oakland (a 38 percent increase).

SOURCE: Realtor Daily News

Signed Contracts to “Buy US Homes” at a 3 Year High

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes ticked up in April to the highest level in three years. The increase points to growth in home sales in the coming months.

The National Association of Realtors said May 30 that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 0.3 percent to 106. That’s the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer tax credit inflated sales.

Signed contracts have jumped 10.3 percent in the past 12 months. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

Home sales and prices began to recover last year and have been buoyed by steady job gains and low mortgage rates.

Sales of previously occupied homes rose in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million, a 3 ½-year high. Sales of newly homes also rose in April, to nearly a five-year high.

Still, the supply of homes on the market remains low and that could keep sales from accelerating later this year. The number of available homes for sale rose in April, the Realtors’ group said last week, but was still down 14 percent from a year earlier.

Fewer homes for sale may be holding back sales in tight markets out West, such as Las Vegas and Phoenix. In those cities, many homeowners still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

The trend showed up in the April pending home sales report. Signed contracts to buy homes soared 11.5 percent last month in the Northeast and 3.2 percent in the Midwest. But they fell 7.6 percent in the West and 1.1 percent in the South.

Still, the tighter supply is also pushing up home prices. That could encourage more people to put their houses on the market. The Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller 20-city home price index this week said prices rose in March nearly 11 percent over the past 12 months. That’s the fastest pace in seven years.

And a limited supply of homes has made builders more willing to ramp up construction. Applications for building permits rose in April to the highest level in nearly five years.

Mortgage rates, meanwhile, jumped this week to their highest levels in a year. That means potential homebuyers are facing higher costs.

Still rates remain relatively low by historical standards. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.81 percent, up from 3.59 percent last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The record low of 3.31 percent rate was reached in November.

SOURCE: Associated Press

CRAZY TIMES AGAIN: Home Sales Heat Up & Buyers Resort to Cold Cash

LOS ANGELES — Bidding wars sound almost quaint. These days, the only way for would-be buyers to secure a home, it often seems, is to offer all cash and be ready to do so within hours, not days.

The bursting of last decade’s housing bubble feels like ancient history here, where first-time home buyers are competing with investors to get into single-family homes with prices approaching $1 million.

im_not_crazy_large_mug“It’s everyone from a kid out of law school to an investor from China, walking around with thousands to spend,” said Kameron Eliassian, a Los Angeles real estate agent. “I don’t know where it’s coming from, and I don’t care. Just show me proof that it’s there, and we’re good.”

After saving money for years, waiting for the residential real estate market to hit bottom, buyers all over the country appear eager to get back in, lured by low interest rates and the prospect of a good deal.

But with the number of homes for sale at historically low levels and large investors purchasing thousands of properties, buyers are facing a radically changed market and prices are quickly rising.

The percentage of homes bought with cash has shot up in many markets across the nation. Nearly a third of all homes purchased in Los Angeles during the first quarter of this year went for all cash, compared with just 7 percent in 2007. In Miami, 65 percent of homes sold were for cash deals, compared with 16 percent six years ago.

People are realizing we’ve probably hit bottom, but the kinds of spikes we’re seeing in places like California seems like history is repeating itself

The prices on all-cash deals are also rising significantly. In Los Angeles, the median price on an all-cash home this year is about $351,000, compared with $230,000 in 2009. Over the same period, the median price over all increased to $410,000, up $85,000. In fact, last month, home prices in Southern California hit their highest level in the last five years.

All-cash buyers, typically investors eager to renovate and quickly resell or rent out homes, are making it more difficult for first-time buyers, who typically rely on mortgage loans that can take weeks or months to materialize. More California homes have been flipped in the last year than in any year since 2005.

And while Los Angeles may be a center of the frenzy, it is not an anomaly. Buyers in Boston are offering $100,000 more than the asking price or placing offers on homes they have spent only minutes in. In San Francisco, Miami and Phoenix, sellers are looking at dozens of offers within days of putting their home on the market, often accompanied by letters from would-be buyers professing their love for the property. New York City has seen similar drops in inventory, and prices have been rising steadily since 2009.

Shortly after Andres Alvarez, 36, got married last fall, he began to look for a home with his wife, figuring that their steady jobs, savings and good credit would make them the perfect buyers in Los Angeles. They were ready to spend $700,000. Their optimism deflated quickly.

“We thought we were the cream of the crop, but anything that was in our price range and move-in ready, there was this insane competition,” Mr. Alvarez said. They put in nearly a dozen bids, often losing to cash buyers, before finding a two-bedroom home for $650,000. “It might be a great time to buy, but it’s a horrible time to be a buyer,” he said.

A year ago, people didn’t want a deal, they wanted a steal – Sellers were listing homes for less than what they originally paid for them and offering all these concessions.

Now, the only concessions are coming from the buyers.

Dick and Susan Yost can vouch for that. They wanted to downsize while leaving their home in Cambridge, Mass., to their son and his family. “We bid on eight places before we finally got one,” Mr. Yost said. “The worst we bid was $85,000 over the asking price, and we didn’t get it.”

Even unappealing homes, he said, had “people all over them.”

Still, there are plenty of skeptics wondering how long the sharp price increases can last.

“People are realizing we’ve probably hit bottom, but the kinds of spikes we’re seeing in places like California seems like history is repeating itself,” said Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac, which monitors residential sales. “That’s not sustainable for the long term, at least not for the regular home buyer, so I think there are some warning flags there.”

For agents who spent the last several years scrounging for business, the change is welcome. When Mr. Eliassian listed a three-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills for $699,000 this year, he worried that the current renters would make it difficult to schedule prospective buyers. But with just two open houses — one meant only for other agents — nearly 300 people came through.

“I had to turn the phone off to avoid people asking to see the place,” Mr. Eliassian said.

Within the week, he had six offers, and the home sold for $745,000. He said he had represented and sold homes to more cash buyers in the last year than at any other time in his career.

Lewis Legon, a developer in Salem, Mass., jumped into the Boston market after he saw how many people were showing up at open houses. “It was like Times Square,” he said of one open house, at a property listed for $1.5 million. He beat out two dozen other bidders by offering $1.8 million in cash, not the first time he had made an all-cash offer.

“The first time I was ready to have a heart attack,” he said of all-cash buy. “But it makes you a more attractive buyer and helps you stand out.”

He also waived the inspection clause, an increasingly common practice. While offers have typically included appraisal clauses, allowing buyers to back out if the home was valued below what they were willing to pay, offers today are more likely to include escalation clauses, saying buyers will pay an additional amount over the highest bid.

“Buyers are taking a lot more risks than they ever would before,” said Dana DeSimone, a Boston real estate agent who called the current market an “insane asylum.” “I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of waiving the inspection contingency on a 150-year-old brownstone until now.”

Now, agents say their biggest challenge is potential sellers who are wary of putting their home on the market because they fear they cannot find a place to buy.

Jeff and Lorena Leininger considered moving from their suburban Los Angeles home over the last several years, but they feared they would not get as much as they paid for it. But this year, with their youngest child getting ready for kindergarten, they decided it was time. Three days after showing the home, they had nine offers.

“It felt as crazy as it was back when we bought 10 years ago,” Mr. Leininger said. “But it was much worse on the other side. We would show up to an open house, and it was already sold. The clear message was: be ready to move fast or just get left out.”

Even in Florida, where the market was once swamped with foreclosures, there are signs of the latest boom, with cash purchases fueled in part by international investors and retirees awash in cash after selling their homes elsewhere.

Don Faught, a manager with Alain Pinel Realtors near San Francisco, said the current market is turning buyers to desperation, particularly because the turnaround has come so quickly.

“A year ago, people didn’t want a deal, they wanted a steal,” he said. “Sellers were listing homes for less than what they originally paid for them and offering all these concessions. Now, the only concessions are coming from the buyers.”

His office has begun to track the number of offers clients make before landing a property. The current record: 27 offers, nearly all at or above asking price.

SOURCE: NYTimes

Existing-Home Sales, Prices Jump to Multiyear Highs

Existing-home sales rose 0.6 percent in April to an annual sales rate of 4.97 million, the highest level since November 2009, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Economists had expected a 1.6 percent increase to 5.0 million from March’s original report of 4.92 million sales. March sales were adjusted upward to 4.94 million.

The median price of an existing single-family home jumped $8,900 in the month to $192,800, the highest since August 2008.

Home Prices Are Going Up in Hailey Idaho

The inventory of homes for sale rose to 2.17 million—its highest level since last September. The supply of homes for sale rose to 5.2 months, the highest since October. The inventory has been a persistent concern to realtors who say the low supply of homes for sale has reduced the number of transactions.

But inventory has edged up consistent with the increase in the median price of an existing-home, which has increased in five of the last six months. The number and months supply of home for sale has gone up for three straight months.

The monthly NAR report—which tracks closings—increased despite a drop in the NAR’s pending home sales index (PHSI) two months ago. The PHSI tracks contracts for sale. The increase in closings was consistent though with the improvement in builder confidence reported last week by the National Association of Home Builders, which said its Housing Market Index increased in May for the first time this year. Homebuilders reported an increase in buyer traffic meaning more people shopping for homes.

According to the NAR data, April home sales were up 9.7 percent over sales a year earlier, a slightly slower improvement than the 10.8 percent year-over-year gain reported for March. The median price also showed a modestly slower year-over-year gain, 11.0 percent for April, than recorded for March, 11.6 percent.

After falling to a cyclical low in August 2010, existing home sales had been improving steadily-helped by the federal homebuyer tax credit program until seeming to plateau since last November.

Monthly sales since November have averaged 4,943,000, up from 4,657,000 in the preceding six months and 4,467,000 from November 2011 through April 2012.

Although the sales pace fell short of forecasts, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun described the housing results as “robust” and said the “market recovery is occurring in spite of tight access to credit and limited inventory.”

Distressed homes—foreclosures and short sales—accounted for 18 percent of April sales, down from 21 percent in March and 28 percent in April 2012, the NAR said. Eleven percent of April sales were foreclosures, and 7 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16 percent below market value in April, while short sales were discounted 14 percent compared with March when foreclosures sold for an average discount of 15 percent while short sales were discounted 13 percent.

The smaller discounts for foreclosures and short sales in the last month suggests some market firming.

The median time on market for all homes was 46 days in April, down sharply from 62 days in March, and is 45 percent faster than the 83 days on market in April 2012, according to NAR. Forty-four percent of all homes sold in April were on the market for less than a month, while only 8 percent were on the market for a year or longer.

First-time buyers, the NAR said, accounted for 29 percent of purchases in April, compared with 30 percent in March and 35 percent in April 2012.

All-cash sales were at 32 percent of transactions in April, up from 30 percent in March; they were 29 percent in April 2012.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 640,000 in April and are 4.9 percent above April 2012. The median price in the Northeast was $245,100, up 3.4 percent from March and 5.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest fell 3.4 percent in April to a pace of 1.12 million but are 9.8 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $149,300, up 5.7 percent from March and 6.7 percent from April 2012.

In the South, existing-home sales rose 2.0 percent to an annual level of 2.01 million in April and are 14.9 percent above April 2012. The median price in the South was $168,700, the highest level since August 2008, and 4.1 percent higher than March and 10.6 percent above a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West increased 1.7 percent to a pace of 1.20 million in April and are 4.3 percent above a year ago. The median price of an existing home in the West rose to $263,600 in April, up 2.6 percent from March and 17.5 percent from April 2012.

SOURCE: DCNews