Tight Inventories Crimp May Home Sales, Pushing Up Prices


Sales of existing homes slipped 1.5% in May after rising 3.2% in April, but prices continue to increase, according to new figures compiled by the National Association of Realtors.

NAR reported Thursday that sales of single-family homes, condominiums and cooperatives fell to a 4.55 million seasonally adjusted annual rate in May from a 4.62 million rate in April.

NAR blamed the dip in buying on a shortage of homes for sale. “The slight pullback in monthly home sales is more likely due to supply constraints rather than a softening of demand,” said chief economist Lawrence Yun. “The normal upturn in inventory did not occur this spring.”

Since January, the median sales price of previously owned homes has risen for four straight months. In May, the median price was $182,600, up almost 8% from a year ago.

Distressed homes accounted for 25% of all May sales (15% foreclosures and 10% short sales), compared to 28% in April and 31% in May of 2011.

“Realtors in Western states have been calling for an expedited process to get additional foreclosed properties onto the market because they have more buyers than available property,” Yun said.

Overall, sales of existing homes are up 9.6% from May 2011.


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