Realtors know their local real estate market better than anybody. Because of this, the National Association of Realtors conducts a monthly survey of real estate professionals to gauge the current market and the outlook for the future. According to April’s survey, housing market activity is up slightly from one year ago, though many of the fundamentals remain virtually unchanged. Realtors are reporting high levels of demand from buyers but say sales are being held back due to a lack of for-sale inventory, which is also putting upward pressure on home prices in some areas. Despite increasing prices, however, home sales have been improving. In fact, recent sales data shows new and existing home sales both up from one month earlier. Additionally, most economists expect the housing market and economy to continue to improve after a slow first quarter. Still, affordability concerns may be keeping some potential first-time buyers from entering the market. For example, first timers accounted for just 32 percent of sales in April. Historically, first purchases have been closer to 40 percent of total sales. Realtors, however, remain confident in the outlook for the next six months. Summer is typically a busy season and, with help from a seasonal uptick in the number of homes available for sale, conditions should be favorable for prospective home buyers. More here.