Home Sales Continue to Slide

Sales of existing homes in April decline 8% from a year ago along with the median sales price.
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Existing-home sales remained weak in April, with prices falling 8% from a year ago and inventories of homes hitting the highs of last summer.

Sales in the month totaled an annualize rate of 4.89 million units, down 1% from March and 18% from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. The April number was slightly higher than the 4.85 million economists expected, according to

Briefing.com

.

The national median price of homes fell 8% to $202,300. "Because the slowdown in sales from a year ago is greatest in high-cost areas, there is a downward distortion to the national median with relatively more sales in low- and moderate-priced markets," NAR said in a release.

Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 11% percent to 4.6 million existing homes -- a level not seen since last summer, as Wachovia economic analyst Adam York said in a research piece.

"We had seen tentative signs of progress the last couple months; these are all but erased," York said about the inventory data.

The April inventory level represents 11.2 months of supply at the current sales pace, up from 10 months of supply in March.

The huge inventory levels remain bad news for homebuilders, which are radically cutting prices to clear their own glut of newly-built homes. Homebuilder stocks fell in morning trading.

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get Report

fell 3.8% to $12.12,

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

fell 3.4% to $12.95,

Hovnanian

(HOV) - Get Report

fell 3.6% to $7.70, and

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

fell 3.6% to $21.05 in recent morning trading.

The weakness in sales and prices were spread across the country.

Compared with a year ago, home sales in the West fell 15%, with prices down 17%. In the South, sales fell 19%, with prices down 5%. In the Northeast, sales fell 15%, with prices down 8%. In the Midwest, sales fell 20% and prices fell 3%.