Americans worried about high gas prices aren't buying as many houses
As the economy slows, the already anemic home buying demand appears to be weakening even further. Existing home sales fell 3.8% in May to the annualized rate of 4.81 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's the fewest sales since November. This isn't good news for a housing market on which copious distressed properties continue to be dumped.
Here's the historical chart for a little perspective on May's numbers:
You can see that home sales had improved a bit since late December, when they rose above the pace of 5 million for the first time since June 2010. But demand had been uneven through April, and now sales are the lowest since November. In general though, May's performance appears to fit into the trend of sales hovering at or a little below the 5 million mark.
Despite weaker sales, inventory actually fell by 1.0% to 3.72 million homes. But despite that decline, the months of supply increased to 9.3 from 9.0 in April, since the pace of sales slowed last month. Here's the chart:
The NAR report also provides median sale price. In May, it was $166,500. While that's higher than it was in April, this number is not seasonally adjusted. As a result, considering it in reference to May 2010's median price is more meaningful. By that measure, prices were down 4.6% last month.