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APRIL HOME SALES REMAIN STABLE AS DEMAND RECOVERS FROM BLEAK WINTER

 WASHINGTON, May 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Sales of previously owned homes remained virtually stable in April from one year earlier as buyers continued to venture back after a bleak winter into a market that boasts continued low mortgage rates, according to the National Association of Realtors.
 On a year-to-date basis, sales of existing homes rose slightly despite sluggish economic growth. Through April, 1.054 million units had been sold nationwide, representing a 0.9 percent increase over the total for the first four months of 1992.
 The association recorded a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate(A) of 3.46 million existing single-family homes in April compared to 3.49 million in April 1992. Spurred on by increased activity across the board regionally, April's home sales rose a healthy 2.7 percent nationwide compared to a month ago.
 According to NAR President William S. Chee, April resale activity experienced regionally suggests that buyers have been clamoring to make purchases while mortgage interest rates remain low. Reports of rising inflation have triggered speculation that interest rates increases are imminent. Such speculation -- whether warranted or not -- probably contributed to the home sales activity, he noted. "Some buyers undoubtedly are making their move because they believe rates are bottoming out," Chee said. "They're coming off the fence to get the lowest rate possible."
 Although many purchases are being made by first-time buyers, the trade-up market also is active, Chee said. "People who are moving up can take on a larger mortgage, at a lower rate, without experiencing an increase in their monthly payments," he said.
 "This resale activity is the response we expected to see after the winter's bad weather conditions, which dampened sales. We expect sales will rise through the rest of the year," Chee added.
 Low mortgage rates continued to make home ownership very affordable in April. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reported that the national average commitment rate for 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgages was 7.48 percent last month, down from 7.50 percent in March, and down from 8.85 percent in April 1992.
 Despite the inflation reports, NAR is not anticipating any notable increases in mortgage rates. Currently, the association is predicting that the average rate for fixed-rate, 30-year mortgages will be 7.50 percent this year.
 "The regional home sales activity is encouraging. We are beginning to see the market bounce back from adverse weather conditions experienced earlier this year," said NAR Chief Economist John Tuccillo. "We are seeing low mortgage rates working back into the market, and home prices that have experienced only moderate increases are keeping the resale housing market affordable," he added.
 Last month's national median existing single-family home price was $105,400, which was 1.8 percent higher than one year earlier, when the price was $103,500. The median is the midpoint in the price range -- half the homes sold cost more, half cost less.
 Currently, NAR is predicting existing single-family home sales to total 3.656 million units this year, representing a 3.9 percent increase from the 1992 total. The median price for existing single-family homes is expected to be $106,000, rising 2.2 percent above the price for last year.
 Regionally, the Midwest reported the greatest increase in activity with home sales totaling 960,000 units in April, up 6.7 percent from one year earlier. The median existing-home price in the Midwest was $85,700, up 5.9 percent from April 1992.
 In the Northeast, the resale rate held steady at 510,000 units in April of this year compared to the same month a year ago. The median price in the Northeast fell 1.6 percent in April to $139,700 from one year ago.
 The South recorded a resale pace of 1.27 million units, down 2.3 percent from April 1992. The median price for existing single- family homes in that region was $91,700 last month, up 0.2 percent from one year earlier.
 Meanwhile, the West posted a resale rate of 720,000 units in April, down 8.9 percent from the April 1992 pace. The region's median price was $142,7000 last month, down 1.2 percent from one year earlier.
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
 (A) The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume normally is higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather.
 -0- 5/25/93 R
 /CONTACT: Annemarie Roketenetz, 202-383-7560; Cheryl Spector, 202-383-1289; or Walter Molony, 202-383-1177, all of the National Association of Realtors/


CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO

MH-TW -- DC003R -- 2123 05/25/93 11:25 EDT
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Date:May 25, 1993
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