Existing Home Sales Rebound, Jobless Claims Tick Up

existing home sales
Matt York/AP
By Lucia Mutikani and Jason Lange

U.S. home resales rose in April and the supply of properties on the market hit its highest level since August 2012, hopeful signs for the stalled housing market recovery.

Other data Thursday showed a jump in first-time applications for unemployment benefits, although the underlying trend still pointed to a strengthening in labor market conditions.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales increased 1.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.65 million units, marking the second increase in sales in nine months.

While that was a bit less than the 4.68 million unit pace economists had expected, it suggested the sector was regaining its footing after stumbling in the second half of 2013 under the weight of higher mortgage rates and house prices.

"The spring housing market may be a little late to bloom but the increase in sales is welcome news showing increased confidence in the economy," said Bill Banfield, vice president of Quicken Loans.

Sales are still down 15 percent from a peak of 5.38 million units hit in July. Compared to April last year, sales were down 6.8 percent.

Expensive home loans and rising home prices have sidelined first-time buyers from the market. Investors also are stepping back.

Though an usually cold winter depressed activity, a dearth of homes for sale also stymied demand. Sales are expected to gradually trend higher for the rest of 2014 as job growth and the overall economy accelerate.

And there is reason to be optimistic. The inventory of unsold homes on the market increased 6.5 percent from a year-ago to 2.29 million in April and the median home price increased at its slowest pace since March 2012.

"The sales slowdown experienced is pretty much coming to an end," said Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist.

The months' supply of existing homes increased to 5.9 months, the highest since August 2012, from 5.1 months in March. Six months' supply is normally considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.

"The biggest story to come out of this report is the boost in home inventory, which has been one of the key issues holding back both buyers and sellers in the first part of this year," Banfield said.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 28,000 to 326,000 for the week ended May 17. The four-week average, which irons out week-to-week volatility, rose by only 10,500.

Last week's claims data covered the survey period for May nonfarm payrolls. With claims rising between the April and May survey periods, job growth probably slowed from April's brisk 288,000 gain in April.

The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 13,000 to 2.65 million in the week ended May 10.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Building Credit from Scratch

Start building credit...now.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

7 Comments

Filter by:
hymukyjik

Whats wrong with renting or saving your money for later? Many Americans want what they can't have and bite off what they can't chew. That's part of the problem we now face from a long time ago. Barrow to the max and then whine about now having enough money . Nice house , car or truck and boat. Can you afford them or does it really matter at this period of time?

Me - I’m going to rent until I have enough money to buy a comparable place in full. And only when I find a place I want to spend the rest of my life in.

While waiting for that, I will make smart decisions with my money:
1) Paying off my debts as they come to me. Never holding a credit card balance longer than a month. If this means living in a small studio apartment and eating ramen, rice, and beans, so be it.
2) I will always buy small, fuel efficient and durable cars. I drive a 2006 Honda Civic now. It costs me nothing to fill up and next to nothing to insure ($25/month from 4AutoInsuranceQuote… thank god!). I will not drive when I don’t need to, and use public transportation whenever possible.
3) Developing multiple revenue streams. Doing side jobs. Building up small businesses. Doing contract work. Basically doing whatever I can to generate income from multiple sources.
4) Grow my revenue and assets no matter what. Make sure I am always expanding and develop them to the point that they consistently generate reliable cash flow.
5) The most important one - make as much as I can. Save as much as I can.

May 22 2014 at 11:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drpmindmender

One of these days, dopey and tru are going to have to come out of the closet. Last week,the polls had dopey as tru's *itch, but this week, the polls are of the opposite opinion.

Have a nice Memorial Day weekend, "boys"!

May 22 2014 at 8:33 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
merlin1246

Notice how HP stuck the bad news in the bottom paragraph.....so typical of the Lyin' Left....

May 22 2014 at 2:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to merlin1246's comment
drpmindmender

When the number of new jobless claims FELL BELOW 300,000 LAST WEEK, it was ALSO reported in the LAST PARAGRAPH...

So typical of the mindless and meaningless conspiracy theories, clung to so tightly by the members of the BAGGER NATION!

May 22 2014 at 4:25 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to drpmindmender's comment
jdykbpl45

Sounds real good! We only need to add that many jobs each month, not having things drag on, and on.

May 22 2014 at 5:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
true_liberal1

Earlier this week, we had one of the dumbest 1%ers speculate that the VA scandal is the result of Republican sabotage. Then another of the imbecile's opined that the Fox Network was the worst show on TV.

But your incredible stupidity may put you at the head of the moron's class. Nice work, dunce

May 22 2014 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
rgkarasiewicz

Yeah, right. That must explain why my home was broken into a couple of weeks ago.

May 22 2014 at 1:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply