Existing home sales drop in May, as prices hit record levels

Register now

Existing home sales fell 0.4% to a seasonally adjusted 5.43 million-unit rate in May from a downwardly revised 5.45 million sales pace the previous month, the National Association of Realtors announced Wednesday.

The May rate is a 3.0% decrease from the same month a year ago. The headline number was below the median 5.52 million unit pace predicted by economists polled by IFR Markets.

“Closings were down in a majority of the country last month and declined on an annual basis in each major region,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Incredibly low supply continues to be the primary impediment to more sales, but there’s no question the combination of higher prices and mortgage rates are pinching the budgets of prospective buyers, and ultimately keeping some from reaching the market.”

Sales in the regions were mostly lower. They were up 4.6% in the Northeast and down 2.3% in the Midwest, off 0.4% in the South, and 0.8% lower in the West.

The median sales price was $264,800 in May, a record high, up from $257,900 in April, and up 4.9% from a year ago.

Inventory levels rose 2.8% from the previous month to 1.85 million existing homes, representing a 4.1-month supply at the current pace. Inventory was down 6.1% from the May 2017 level.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Economic indicators