The trade group said sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops rose 3.4 percent to an seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April, up from a downwardly revised figure for March of 4.47 million.
Sales are also 10 percent higher than the 4.2 million level of April 2011.
Data also shows that the median sales price for existing homes jumped 10.1 percent to $177,400 in April compared to April 2011.
The data shows, "It is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions. A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
"The general downtrend in both listed and shadow inventory has shifted from a buyers' market to one that is much more balanced, but in some areas it has become a seller's market," he said.
NAR said sales of existing homes rose 5.1 percent in the Northeast and 1 percent in the Midwest. In the South, sales rose 3.5 percent, while in the West sales rose 4.4 percent.
At the end of the month, there were 2.54 million existing homes on the market, a 6.6-month supply at the current rate of sales.
At the end of March, existing homes on the market represented a 6.2-month supply based on the current rate of sales.
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