By Les Christie @CNNMoney May 22, 2012: 1:13 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The housing market surged in April, with home affordability at record levels.
Sales hit 4.62 million homes during the month on an annualized basis, a rise of 3.4% compared with a month earlier and up 10% from April 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors.
NAR reported that the median price for homes sold during the month was $177,400. That’s a jump of more than 10% compared with a year earlier.
The housing market’s improvement was widespread, as all four regions in the nation recorded gains. That’s a good indication that there is a sustainable recovery afoot, according to Gus Faucher, a senior economist for PNC Financial. “The fundamentals for a recovery have been in place for a while,” he said. “Only confidence was lacking.”
A decline in the proportion of distressed property sales — homes either in default or already repossessed by lenders — helped boost home prices. These properties normally sell at big discounts to conventional sales and drag down the overall median price.
In April, distressed properties accounted for 28% of sales, down from 37% 12 months earlier.
Commentary from Bob Karp of Karp Properties LLC: These numbers are indeed very good. We have not yet seen a big increase in sales in the Sierra Vista and Hereford Arizona area. We are beginning to see more buyers from outside the area which may indicate that things are getting better nationally. For buyers now is the time to get the best deals. Inventory remains abundant but choices for good properties in the $150,000 to $300,000 price range are becoming more limited. Buy Now is the mantra and that is probably correct for many potential homeowners.