Housing Prices and Existing-Home Sales Rise in April

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In another positive sign for the housing market, existing-home sales and home prices posted increases in April, the National Association of Realtors says.

Existing home sales rose 3.4 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April, which is 10 percent above last year's April estimate, the NAR says. And for the second month in a row, the national median existing-home price -- which was $177,400 in April -- posted an annual increase of 10.1 percent in April.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement that a contracting supply of bank-owned homes, homes in a state of foreclosure, homes at risk of foreclosure and shrinking foreclosure sales were helping to spur a recovery. The analytics firm CoreLogic recently released data showing that the foreclosure supply had fallen from 1.5 million to 1.4 million in March 2012.

Due to government scrutiny and the mounting costs of foreclosures, lenders are gravitating toward foreclosure alternatives such as short sales, helping homeowners avoid foreclosure or lifting them out of it. And against the backdrop of rising employment, record-low mortgage interest rates and rock-bottom prices are coaxing buyers into the market. The rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sat at 3.79 percent last week.

"This is the first time we've had back-to-back price increases from a year earlier since June and July of 2010 when the gains were less than 1 percent," Yun said of median existing-home prices, which exclude foreclosure prices and new home prices. "For the year, we're looking for a modest overall price gain of 1.0 to 2.0 percent, with stronger improvement in 2013."

The bullish report comes on the heels of other positive data releases for the housing market: homebuilder confidence jumped to a five-year high in May, and housing starts were 23.7 percent above the April 2011 estimate.

Despite green shoots sprouting in the real estate market, experts say banks' unwillingness to loosen their grip on credit continues to prohibit many homebuyers from capitalizing on once-in-a-lifetime buying conditions.

See also:
Senator's Mortgage Trouble Highlights Positive Housing Trend

States Tighten Foreclosure Regulations
Mortgage Points: When It's Smart to Pay More Upfront

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High-End Real Estate Deals in Summer Hot Spots
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Housing Prices and Existing-Home Sales Rise in April

With summer almost here, it's time to start thinking vacations. And in light of today's rock-bottom prices and mortgage rates, you may not want to settle for merely renting a getaway but instead buy one. 

Whet your appetite for R&R season by clicking through our gallery of mansions in 20 of the country's most desirable vacation hotspots.

Location: Nantucket, Mass. 
Price: $59 million
Beds/Baths: 9/10
Sq. Ft.: N/A 

We may not know precisely how big this mega-mansion's is based on its listing, but we do have the specs on the property's overall size: 68.60 acres. 

That giant swath carved out of one of the country's most exclusive hotspots, one that is teeming with cream-of-the-crop bankers, accounts for its mind-blowing price tag.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Nantucket, Mass.   

Russell Dale Phelon, who owned the engine electronics manufacturer, R.E. Phelon Co.,  currently owns the compound. The home ranks as one of the most expensive publicly listed homes in the country, and according to Forbes, if the 70-acre compound sells even close to its asking price, "it will dash regional records."

"That's not surprising," the home's listing agent, Gary Winn of Sotheby's International Realty, tells AOL Real Estate. "I mean have you seen it? The home's just incredible."

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Nantucket, Mass.

Location: Juneau, Alaska
Price: $1.55 million
Beds/Baths: 3/5
Sq. Ft.: 5,257

Juneau is a popular tourist spot in Alaska, offering visitors the opportunity to savor a its glacial landscape and diverse wildlife. This contemporary home sits at the top of the local real estate market. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Juneau, Alaska

Giant windows flood the home's great room with natural lighting. The cavernous space boasts a large fireplace and vaulted ceilings. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Juneau, Alaska

Location: Orlando, Fla.
Price: $3.99 million
Beds/Baths: 5/8
Sq. Ft.: 8,676

The mecca for imaginative youngsters, Orlando has an abundance of vacation homes ready to host starry-eyed kids -- and their well-heeled parents -- who make pilgrimages to Disney World. This giant 8,676-square-foot home is one of the best of the bunch. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Orlando, Fla.

Shielded by a stone facade, the home's rear wraps around an expansive pool that is wreathed by verdant landscaping.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Orlando, Fla.

Location: Mantoloking, N.J.
Price: $6.49 million
Beds/Baths: 6/6
Sq. Ft.: 4,500

The wealthiest community in New Jersey and 15th wealthiest in the country, Mantoloking is one of the Jersey Shore's most exclusive communities, Wikipedia tells us. This home commands a stunning 1.54-acre oceanfront lot, and its serene setting is a far cry from the raucous party hubs of the Jersey Shore.  

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Mantoloking, N.J.

The home features an expansive kitchen-dining area with panoramic vistas of the ocean viewable through its sliding doors. Outdoor amenities of the secluded compound run the gamut: There is a wrap-around mahogany deck, gated pool and flower gardens. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Mantoloking, N.J.

Location: San Juan Island, Wash.
Price: $5.95 million
Beds/Baths: 3/3
Sq. Ft.: 5,183

The San Juan Islands area is one of the premier vacation hotspots for Northwesterners. Popular activities include kayaking and whale-watching. A rustic lodge perched over the ocean, this home features custom fixtures, heartwood lumber and "Montana river stone," the listing says.  

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in San Juan Island, Wash.

The interior boasts granite counters, wood floors, expansive windows and a stone fireplace. But its idyllic waterfront setting is what really sets this place apart.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in San Juan Island, Wash.

Location: Duck, N.C.
Price: $3.999 million
Beds/Baths: 8/12
Sq. Ft.: N/A

Located in the Outer Banks community of Duck, N.C., this gargantuan home looks more like a resort than a private residence. And it is to some degree: The property is marketed as a "luxury wedding home," and has its own wedding chapel.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Duck, N.C.

The home also features eight master suites, very large bathrooms, a pool with a diving board, a billiard room, a theater room, and over 9,000 square feet of outdoor decks.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Duck, N.C.

Location: Sea Island, Ga. 
Price: $8.5 million
Beds/Baths: 6/10
Sq. Ft.: 8,970

A member of the Golden Isles of Georgia, Sea Island is a popular resort town in the area and once hosted a G8 meeting. This six-bedroom just got a price haircut, and now will only cost you, well, you still can't buy it -- unless you're in a position to put down around $2 million or so, that is. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Sea Island, Ga.

Built in 1989, the home sprawls across 7,832 feet, with soaring, coffered ceilings looming over an exquisitely detailed interior. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Sea Island, Ga.

Location: Santa Barbara, Calif. 
Price: $19.995 million
Beds/Baths: 15/13
Sq. Ft.: N/A

Set on the Southern California coast just north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is one of the Golden State's most desirable getaways. This horse ranch perched on the Pacific spans 22 acres of pristine California real estate. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The two main homes of the pastoral residence have five bedrooms and their own pools and Jacuzzis. There are three guesthouses, a "manager's house," office, tennis and racquetball courts, a movie theater and more. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Location: Honolulu
Price: $14.888 million
Beds/Baths: 5/6
Sq. Ft.: 8,200

This mansion overlooks the tropical waters of Hawaii's capital and offers jaw-dropping panoramic views of the ocean and occasional glimpses of whales. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Honolulu

It has floor-to-ceiling windows and a custom layout designed to accentuate its stunningly beautiful surroundings. 

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Honolulu, Hawaii

Location: Key Largo, Fla.
Price: $14.5 million
Beds/Baths: 6/7
Sq. Ft.: 7,832

Another popular Florida tourist destination, Key Largo boasts its fair share of luxury homes. But this could be the best of them. 


See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Key Largo, Fla. 

The home has coffered ceilings, a covered patio, and balconies that look over a pool.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Key Largo, Fla. 

Location: Bass Lake, Calif.
Price: $2 Million
Beds/Baths: 5/4
Sq. Ft.: 2,639

Bass Lake is just minutes away from the southern gate of Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is known for its El Capitan rock formation (one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world), its various breathtaking granite domes, and its groves of ancient Giant Sequoia trees.

This house on Bass Lake features a private boat dock, built in barbecue and fire pit, and an elevated deck for spectacular lake views.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Bass Lake, Calif.

The open-beam ceilings create a wide-open, bright feeling throughout the house. The kitchen features exquisite cabinetry with plenty of counter space. This home is perfect for vacationing, or year-round living.


See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Bass Lake, Calif.

Location: Napa, Calif.
Price: $16.95 Million
Beds/Baths: 6/10
Sq. Ft.: 12,000

Napa Valley was awarded “The World’s Best Wine and Food Destination” by TripAdvisor’s 2010 Travelers’ Choice Awards. It’s known for its rolling hills planted with vineyards and their vast variety of wineries. Enjoy endless wine-tasting and world class restaurants.

This 21-acre estate, dubbed “Villa de Montana,” was given the “Best Property in the United States” award by CNBC. Its gated grounds feature private vineyards, pastures, and forests of oak, madrone, and bay trees.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Napa, Calif.

The 12,000-square-foot main house features two master suites, four guest suites, a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen, a sunroom, an exercise studio, a library and, of course, a wine cellar.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Napa, Calif.

Location: South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Price: $3.395 Million
Beds/Baths: 4/5
Sq. Ft.: 4,433

Lake Tahoe is popular for its water sports and beach activities, like parasailing, jet-skiing and kayaking. It's also home to one of the most prestigious wooden boat shows in the country, the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, held in August. There are also hundreds of hiking and bike trails around the lake. And for  gamblers, several casinos are located on the Nevada side of the lake.

This house is on Lake Tahoe’s shore in a gated lakefront community. Built in 2008, this Tuscan-style villa captures the essence of quality and elegance.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Some noteworthy features: a private dock; a 900-square-foot roof deck with a spa and amazing views; a top-of-the-line European kitchen; and high ceilings throughout.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Location: Portland, Ore.
Price: $5.85 Million
Beds/Baths: 4/8
Sq. Ft.: 9,168

This home sits on a fenced-in 1.34-acre lot, which features large flat yards, patios, a pool, covered outdoor rooms, and a tool shed.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Portland, Ore.

The massive main house has French doors opening to multiple balconies. It also has a library, an exercise room, and walls of windows throughout the house for excellent sunlight.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Portland, Ore.

Location: San Antonio, Texas
Price: $4.2 Million
Beds/Baths: 5/6
Sq. Ft.: 8,236

This newly constructed house sitting on 10 acres has every amenity one can desire. The rooms were designed with entertaining in mind: High ceilings and large open spaces create a strong feeling of togetherness while also not feeling cramped.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in San Antonio, Texas.

Outside, the property has a huge lawn with a spacious patio overlooking the multiple pools with water slides.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in San Antonio, Texas.

Location: Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Price: $7.5 Million
Beds/Baths: 6/7
Sq. Ft.: 8,399

Rehoboth Beach offers lush beaches and a vibrant boardwalk, complete with its famous “Funland” amusement park. The quaint streets offer a variety of dining and shopping options, and the nearby bay and a state park allow for excellent biking, hiking and boating. 

This house is truly the ultimate beach house. It features panoramic views of the ocean from its 4,300 square feet of outdoor decks with a hot tub and its bell tower.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

The main house features vaulted ceilings, a recreation room, a fitness room, and is completely furnished. It also features separate guest quarters to share the amazing private beach experience.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Location: Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.
Price: $1.295 Million
Beds/Baths: 3/2
Sq. Ft.: 3,168

Wisconsin Dells is the self proclaimed Waterpark Capital of the World. And it has good reason to call itself that: It has 20 indoor water parks, and is home to the largest outdoor water park in the country.

The house is situated on 6.62 acres with 480 feet of lakeside beaches. The property features a gazebo, three cottages and camping spots for 44 permanent sites, complete with water and septic system.

See the listing for more details
, or see other homes for sale in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.

The interior of the main house designed to feel as open as possible. The large kitchen, dining room, and living room are all connected and have spacious, vaulted ceilings.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.

Location: Moab, Utah
Price: $1.5 Million
Beds/Baths: 6/6
Sq. Ft.: 3,900

Moab is the perfect spot for picturesque outdoor fun. Getting in touch with mother nature has never been easier, with 4x4 riding at the Sand Flats Recreational Area; whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Colorado river; hundreds of miles of biking and hiking trails; and rock-climbing throughout the area. For the more extreme thrill seekers, try base-jumping off of Moab’s famous cliffs.


This ranch home overlooks the world famous Sorrel River Ranch and the Colorado River, and is surrounded by Utah’s famous red rock monuments and towers.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Moab, Utah.

The homes interior has plenty of windows, allowing for stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It's finished in traditional Southwest fashion and features hardwood floors, a stone fireplace and covered porches.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Moab, Utah.

Location: Bar Harbor, Maine
Price: $4.9 Million
Beds/Baths: 7/11
Sq. Ft.: 12,902

This oceanfront home is located on a 5.2 acre lot. It features a detached garage, a boathouse, and plenty of lawn space, porches, patios and forest areas.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Bar Harbor, Maine.

The interior of the main house reflects the beauty and tradition of a turn-of-the-20th-century cottage, yet has every amenity you would expect in a modern home. The large windows allow for amazing views of the ocean, and let in plenty of natural sunlight. The home also features a library, several marble and stone fireplaces, and a finished walk-out basement.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Location: Rapid City, S.D.
Price: $799,900
Beds/Baths: 3/4
Sq. Ft.: 3,744

Rapid City is just minutes away from Mount Rushmore, the quintessential American tourist spot. Besides the iconic mountainside sculpture, Mount Rushmore offers wildlife tours, nearby camping and hiking.

An amazing value on a large, single-family home with spectacular sunset views. It has easy access to the neighborhood, with outdoor activities galore.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Rapid City, S. D.

The home has large rooms and a wide open living area. It also features an indoor wash-bay to keep your cars and other outdoor equipment clean.

See the listing for more details, or see other homes for sale in Rapid City, S. D.

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