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Home Sales Hit 10-Year Low As Prices Keep Sliding

AP

Sales of existing homes fell more sharply than expected in June as the housing industry continued to be bruised by the worst slump in more than two decades.

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales dropped by 2.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.86 million units, a 10-year low.

That was more than double the decline that had been expected and left sales 15.5 percent below where they were a year ago.

The downward slide in sales depressed prices, too. The median price for a home sold in June dropped to $215,100, down by 6.1 percent from a year ago. That was the fifth largest year-over-year price drop on record.

The drop in sales pushed inventories of unsold single-family homes and condominiums to 4.49 million units, up by 0.2 percent.

That represented a 11.1 month supply at the June sales pace, the second highest level in the past 24 years.

Sales were down in all regions of the country except the West, which posted a 1 percent sales increase. Sales fell by 6.6 percent in the Northeast, 3.4 percent in the Midwest and 3.1 percent in the South.

Analysts said that until the inventory level is reduced to more normal levels, the slump in housing is likely to persist. The inventory level is being driven higher by a massive wave of mortgage foreclosures, however.

Seeking to address the housing crisis, Congress is moving to pass a sweeping package of rescue measures.

The plan includes support to keep as many as 400,000 homeowners from losing their homes to foreclosure and a federal lifeline to bolster troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The House passed the bill Wednesday and the Senate is expected to pass the proposal in coming days, sending it to President Bush.

The president has dropped a threatened veto over a portion of the bill.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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