In a potential sign that the housing market is finally waking up a bit from its winter slumber, the National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales for April edged up 1.3 percent to a rate of 4.65 million units at an annualized rate, only the second such an increase in just the past ninehousing sales gradually rise months. Economists had expected closer to 4.68 million units yet the reported number was close enough.

It was feared by some that another weak existing home sales number would put the economy back in the doldrums and erase the marginal gains we’ve seen in several sectors. Compared to the same period last year, existing homes sold at a 5.38 percent annualized rate and 6.8 percent lower than April of 2013.

In another slightly positive sign, inventory has edged up somewhat with a 6.5 percent gain from one year ago and the median home price slowed down somewhat at a pace not seen for more than two years. Mortgage rates were about one-half percent lower than what they are today but it was the May to June of 2013 jump that caught many off guard, with 30 year mortgage rates increasing by more than a full percentage point during that time.

Freddie Mac also reported its weekly mortgage rate survey and rates are continuing their gradual downward slide, this in spite of continued tapering by the Fed. According to Freddie Mac, the 30 year fixed rate dropped yet again to 4.14 percent from 4.20 percent the previous week. The 15 year produce also feel by four basis points from 3.29 to 3.25 percent.

Real estate investors right now are enjoying moderating prices as well lower financing costs. Coupled with recent suggestions that mortgage lending guidelines could be relaxed in the near future, it appears to be a good time to invest while opening up home buying opportunities for first time buyers.