Is the worst over for homeowners?

Data released Tuesday shows that existing-home sales increased 3.4% in April from a month earlier and 10% from a year ago, with market conditions improving in many parts of the country.

The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that existing home sales grew 3.4% last month from March, while housing starts, or new construction, increased 2.6%. Existing home sales and starts were also up 10% and 30%, respectively, from April 2011.

The Census Bureau reported a median price of $235,700 on new homes sold in April, up from $234,000 in March and $224,700 a year earlier.

According to the National Association of Realtors, there is now a 6.6-month supply of existing homes, the estimated amount of time it will take for all listed homes to sell. That’s down from 9.1 months a year ago, and closer to what experts consider a seller’s market — five months or less.

Some parts of the country are already being described as seller’s markets, including many that were hardest hit during the downturn. At the current pace of sales, it would take less than five months to sell the homes listed in Miami, Phoenix and Sacramento.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said the numbers point to a housing recovery under way. “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,” he said

For homeowners who’ve been holding off on selling until more favorable conditions kick in, that time might be now, some experts say. Buyers will need to prepare to compete against others for the limited inventory that’s up for grabs.

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