The rate at which existing homes sold in April fell by double digits from the same month last year, while the median home price declined slightly, the National Association of Realtors reported today.

Total sales of existing homes, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.99 million units in April, which is 10.7 percent lower than the 6.71 million-unit pace recorded a year ago.

Compared to the previous month, April’s sales rate was 2.6 percent below March’s 6.15 million-unit rate, NAR reported.

“We’ve been anticipating slower home sales because many subprime loan products are no longer available,” Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, said in a statement. “In addition, increased scrutiny by lenders is stopping risky mortgage origination, which is good for both consumers and the lending community. Fortunately, a wide availability of conventional mortgage products and the 4.5 million jobs created over the past 24 months will help to stabilize the market going forward.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $220,900 in April, down 0.8 percent from April 2006 when the median was $222,600. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less, but there is a downward skew in the current national comparison because sales have shifted away from many high-cost areas during the last year, according to NAR.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 6.18 percent in April, up from 6.16 percent in March; the rate was 6.51 percent in April 2006. This week, Freddie Mac reported the fixed rate jumped to 6.37 percent.

Total housing inventory rose 10.4 percent at the end of April to 4.2 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 8.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.4 month supply in March.

By housing type, single-family home sales declined 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.22 million in April from an upwardly revised 5.35 million in March, and are 11.2 percent below the 5.88 million-unit level in April 2006. The median existing single-family home price was $220,500 in April, which is 0.9 percent below a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 770,000 units in April from a level of 800,000 in March, and are 7.7 percent lower than the 834,000-unit pace in March 2006. The median existing condo price was $223,700 in April, up 1 percent from a year earlier.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Midwest eased by 0.7 percent in April to a level of 1.38 million, and are 11.5 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $166,600, which rose 1.9 percent from April 2006.

In the South, sales of existing homes slipped 1.2 percent to an annual sales rate of 2.38 million in April, and are 8.8 percent below April 2006. The median price in the South was $181,100, down 0.3 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 1.7 percent in April to an annual pace of 1.19 million, and are 15.6 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $338,200, which is 2.1 percent lower than April 2006.

Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 8.8 percent to a level of 1.04 million in April, and are 8.8 percent lower than April 2006. The median existing-home price in the Northeast was $283,600, which is 0.6 percent below a year ago.

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