Existing home sales fall less than expected

The rate of existing home purchases fell last month to its lowest level since November, falling 3.8 percent nationwide to 4.81 million

The rate for single family sales dropped 3.2 percent while sales of condominiums fell 8.1 percent.  Still the drop was lower than economists expected.

The rate of existing sales is off a whopping 15.3 since May 2010, when 5.68 million homes were sold as buyers rushed to beat the expiration of the first-time homebuyers tax credit.

Sales in the Midwest and South saw the most significant drops, while the Northeast saw only a moderate decline of 2.5 percent. Sales of existing homes in the Northeast are 13.5 percent below May 2010.

Median home prices fell 4.6 percent nationally, driven by a sharp drop in the West, where the median price fell nearly 13 percent.  The Northeast saw an increase in home price to $241,500, up 6.1 percent from a year ago.

Total inventory fell 1 percent to 3.72 million existing homes available for sale, a 9.3 month supply. That’s up from a 9-month supply in April.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said several factors contributed to the soft market.

“Spiking gasoline prices along with widespread severe weather hurt house shopping in April, leading to soft figures for actual closings in May,” Yun said in a release. “Current housing market activity indicates a very slow pace of broader economic activity, but recent reversals in oil prices are likely to mitigate the impact going forward. The pace of sales activity in the second half of the year is expected to be stronger than the first half, and will be much stronger than the second half of last year.”

  Existing home sales fall less than expected