Sales of existing homes fell by a larger-than-expected amount in April while the median price of a home sold during the month fell for a ninth straight month as the troubles in the subprime mortgage market acted as a further drag on housing.
The National Association of Realtors reported Friday that sales of existing homes fell by 2.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.99 million units. That was the slowest sales pace since June 2003.
The median price of a home fell to $220,900, an 0.8 percent fall from the midpoint selling price a year ago. It marked the ninth straight decline in the median price.
Sales were weak in all parts of the country. The Northeast experienced the biggest decline, a fall of 8.8 percent in April from the March sales pace. Sales were down 1.7 percent in the West, 1.2 percent in the Midwest and 0.7 percent in the South.
The drop in sales was accompanied by a big jump in the number of unsold homes left on the market. They climbed to a record total of 4.2 million. It would take 8.4 months to exhaust that supply of homes at the April sales pace.
Analysts are concerned that the glut of unsold homes will further depress prices in coming months.
But Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the Realtors, said that the small year-over-year price decline of less than 1 percent was still modest compared to the 50 percent rise in home prices that occurred during the five boom years that ended last year.