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The coronavirus pandemic triggered the biggest drop in U.S. home sales in nearly a decade last month.
Sales of existing homes fell 17.8 percent month to month in April -- overall 17.2 percent lower than last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. That puts the annualized pace at 4.33 million units, the slowest since September 2011.
The drop in closings is the biggest one-month decline since July 2010.
Economists surveyed by Refinitiv had predicted existing home sales would decrease 18.9 percent in April.
"The economic lockdowns – occurring from mid-March through April in most states – have temporarily disrupted home sales," Lawrence Yun, a National Association of Realtors economist, said in a statement. "But the listings that are on the market are still attracting buyers and boosting home prices."
The supply of homes for sale fell 19.7 percent from the year-ago period to 1.47 million units for sale at the end of April. The lack of inventory pushed the median existing-home price to $286,800, a 7.4 percent increase from last April. Prices increased in every region, according to the survey.
"Record-low mortgage rates are likely to remain in place for the rest of the year, and will be the key factor driving housing demand as state economies steadily reopen," Yun said. "Still, more listings and increased home construction will be needed to tame price growth."
The April data also revealed a shift away from condominiums to single-family homes -- a trend that could be reflective of Americans' desire to escape urban areas for more spacious homes.
Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 26.4 percent from March and dropped 31.6 percent from a year ago. The median existing condo price was $267,200 in April, an increase of 7.1 percent from last year.
"There appears to be a shift in preference for single-family homes over condominium dwellings," Yun said. "This trend could be long-lasting as remote work and larger housing needs will become widely prevalent even after we emerge from this pandemic."