U.S. Existing Home Sales Extend Pullback In May But Drop Less Than Expected

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After reporting sharp decreases in U.S. existing home sales over the three previous months, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Tuesday showing existing home sales saw further downside in the month of May.

NAR said existing home sales slid by 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 5.80 million in May after tumbling by 2.7 percent to a rate of 5.85 million in April. Economists had expected existing home sales to slump by 2.2 percent to a rate of 5.72 million.

Existing home sales have plummeted by 12.9 percent since January but are still up by 44.6 percent compared to May of 2020.

"Home sales fell moderately in May and are now approaching pre-pandemic activity," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "Lack of inventory continues to be the overwhelming factor holding back home sales, but falling affordability is simply squeezing some first-time buyers out of the market."

"The market's outlook, however, is encouraging," he continued. "Supply is expected to improve, which will give buyers more options and help tamp down record-high asking prices for existing homes."

The report said the median existing home price was $350,300 in May, up 2.8 percent from $340,600 in April and up 23.6 percent from $283,500 a year ago.

Total housing inventory jumped 7.0 percent to 1.23 million units at the end of May from 1.15 million at the end of April but was still down by 20.6 percent from 1.55 million at the end of May 2020.

The unsold inventory represents 2.5 months of supply at the current sales price, up from April's 2.4 months of supply but down from 4.6 months last May.

NAR also said single-family home sales fell by 1.0 percent to an annual rate of 5.08 million in May, while existing condominium and co-op sales were unchanged at a rate of 720,000.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new home sales in the month of May.

Economists currently expect new home sales to climb by 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 870,000 in May after plunging by 5.9 percent to a rate of 863,000 in April.

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