The U.S. housing market held steady in April, despite scant inventory, tight credit and rising building costs, according to real estate market trends reported yesterday by the National Association of Home Builders.
The number of housing markets showing at least six consecutive months of improvement in housing permits, employment and home prices is essentially unchanged in April, according to the association’s Improving Markets Index. The index now includes 273 improving metropolitan areas, one market fewer than 274 for March.
“The stability in the improving markets list this month is encouraging, with three quarters of all metros tracked by our index considered on the upswing as the housing recovery spreads to parts of every state,” Rick Judson, chair of the association, said in a statement. “In some markets, the main thing that’s holding back a recovery is a relatively thin inventory of homes for sale, which could be resolved if builders had easier access to credit for building homes and putting people back to work.”
Real estate market trends are expected to level out in the short term, according to David Crowe, chief economist for the association. “We can expect to see more gradual gains going forward as challenges related to increased demand kick in – including everything from tightened supplies of developable lots and labor to the rising cost of building materials,” he said.
In other real estate market trends, the National Association of Realtors today reported that Canadians are the biggest international buyers of existing homes in the U.S. The second largest share comes from Europe, followed by Asia, Central and South America, China and Mexico. International buyers account for roughly 3 percent of existing home sales in the U.S., according to NAR. The most popular markets for international buyers are in Florida, California, Texas, New York, Arizona and Illinois.
Earlier this week, NAR reported a 10 percent increase in vacation home sales in 2012 and a slight decline in homes purchased by investors, a sign that real estate market trends – including rising prices – are cooling demand for investment property.