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U.S. Existing Home Sales Slump Much More Than Expected In April

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After reporting a bigger than expected increase in U.S. existing home sales in the previous month, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Thursday showing existing home sales pulled back by much more than expected in the month of April.

NAR said existing home sales tumbled by 2.5 percent to an annual rate of 5.46 million in April after climbing by 1.1 percent to a rate of 5.60 million in March. Economists had expected existing home sales to edge down by 0.2 percent.

With the much bigger than expected monthly decrease, existing home sales in April were down by 1.4 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun attributed the slump in existing home sales in April to staggeringly low inventory levels

"Realtors say the healthy economy and job market are keeping buyers in the market for now even as they face rising mortgage rates," Yun said.

He added, "However, inventory shortages are even worse than in recent years, and home prices keep climbing above what many home shoppers are able to afford."

The median existing home price for all housing types was $257,900 in April, up 5.3 percent from the same month a year ago.

NAR also said total housing inventory increased 9.8 percent to 1.80 million existing homes available for sale at the end of April, but is still 6.3 percent lower year-over-year.

The unsold inventory represents 4.0 months of supply at the current sales pace compared to 4.2 months of supply a year ago.

The report said single-family home sales plunged by 3.0 percent to an annual rate of 4.84 million in April, while existing condominium and co-op sales jumped by 1.6 percent to a rate of 620,000 units.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department released a separate report showing a pullback in new home sales in the U.S. in the month of April.

The report said new home sales fell by 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 662,000 in April after jumping by 2 percent to a revised rate of 672,000 in March.

Economists had expected new home sales to drop to a rate of 679,000 from the 694,000 originally reported for the previous month.

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