Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, fell 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million in May from a downwardly revised 5 million in April, according to NAR. Sales also are 15.3 percent below the 5.68 million pace recorded in May 2010 when sales surged to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit.
“Temporary factors held back the market in May, as implied from prior data on contract signings,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Spiking gasoline prices along with widespread severe weather hurt house shopping in April, leading to soft figures for actual closings in May.
“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.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $166,500 in May, down 4.6 percent from May 2010. Distressed homes – typically sold at a discount of about 20 percent – accounted for 31 percent of sales in May, down from 37 percent in April.
First-time buyers purchased 35 percent of homes in May, down from 36 percent in April and down from 46 percent in May 2010, when the tax credit was in place. Investors accounted for 19 percent of purchase activity in May compared with 20 percent in April; they were 14 percent in May 2010.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the West, which includes California, were unchanged at an annual pace of 1.17 million in May, but were 10 percent lower than a year ago. The median price in the West was $192,300, which is 12.6 percent below May 2010.
From C.A.R. Newsline published by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
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