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Homes Selling at Fastest Pace Since Boom

22 May 2013

Strong demand and still limited supply mean homes are now selling nearly three times as fast as they normally would.

The average number of days a listing stayed on the market in April was 46, down from 62 in March, and down from the normal pace of 90-120 days, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The sales pace is back to what it was during the housing boom in 2005 and 2006, but the circumstances are of course very different.

“We need to see home builders increase production,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR in a press conference. “We need a 50 percent increase in starts.”

Toll Brothers reported that it raised prices by $26,000 on average, or about five percent, during the second quarter. The average price of a contract signed in the quarter was up sixteen percent from a year ago.

While homes are certainly selling faster, double digit price gains are not considered healthy, especially when wage growth is nowhere near that. At some point buyers will hit the wall, unable to afford the homes they want.

(Read MoreUS Home Sales Rise to Highest Level in More Than 3 Years)

First time home buyers are already dropping out of the market, representing just twenty-nine percent of home buyers in April, according to the NAR—the lowest in two years. Rising mortgage rates, now at their highest in two months, are playing a part, but there are also fewer low-end homes to buy. The number of homes in the foreclosure process is now down nearly twenty-five percent from a year ago, according to a new report from Lender Processing Services.

Just eighteen percent of home sales in April were of distressed properties, the lowest since the Realtors began tracking this number in 2008. Compare that to thirty-five percent about a year and a half ago. Sales of homes priced below $100,000 were down ten percent in April compared to a year ago, while every other price range saw sales gains. Those who can get credit are now competing for what little there is to buy, and pushing prices well beyond expectations.

Original Article: by Diana Olick

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