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Homebuyer traffic slow in April on home price concerns: Credit Suisse

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Homebuyer traffic remained tepid in April, as confidence sits relatively low; however, distressed properties are becoming more attractive to investors. Credit Suisse recently reported in a monthly survey that buyer traffic decreased slightly during the first month of spring. The company attributes this fluctuation to a profound importance of value. "Buyers — both investors and occupants — continue to focus on finding value, which presents challenges from sellers in most markets," the report noted. "Buyers remain hesitant to buy before they are confident that prices have bottomed." Every month Credit Suisse surveys a nationwide network of real estate agents about current trends in the housing market. In April, the company received about 1,000 responses. Analysts calculate an index with levels about 50 representing positive trends and below 50 representing negative trends. In April the index stood at 36.8, down 0.7 points from March. Real estate agents said more and more buyers are flocking to foreclosures and short sales because of the elevated importance on value of a home. They said buyers don't want to see homes that are overpriced, yet many sellers are now willing to lower their selling price to meet today's market. "As a result, much of the traffic came from investors wanting to see distress, but also from owner-occupant buyers wanting to buy at 'rock bottom prices,'" the report said. Still, most real estate agents said April homebuyer traffic exceeded their expectations. The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that distressed properties are in high demand and driving a nationwide increase in existing home sales. According to the trade group, 39% of all first-quarter transactions involved distressed homes or condos. Credit Suisse reported the top markets for home sales are Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago and Dallas. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.

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