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Tax credit’s last hurrah?

Home sales up in April, but swelling inventories could undermine prices

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The federal homebuyer tax credit helped boost existing-home sales again in April, but total housing inventory swelled as homes came on the market faster than they were sold, the National Association of Realtors said today. With the homebuyer tax credit gone -- buyers had to be under contract by April 30 to claim it -- NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun acknowledged that "no doubt there will be some temporary fallback" in coming months. But Yun said other factors continue to support housing markets -- including mortgage rates that remain near historic lows, and an improving economy and buyer confidence -- and that "the housing price correction appears essentially over." Existing-home sales were up 7.6 percent from March to April, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million homes. Compared to the same time a year ago, sales were up 22.8 percent. The median home price was up 4 percent from a year ago, to $173,100. But NAR said first-tim...