Existing Home Sales Unexpectedly Slip

Sales of previously owned homes fell in April, a trade group said on Thursday, in a sign that the country's housing market is struggling to recover from the recent financial crisis.

Sales slipped 0.8 percent month over month to an annual rate of 5.05 million units from a downwardly revised 5.09 million in March, said the National Association of Realtors.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting home resale's to rise to 5.2 million from the previously reported 5.1 million.

"The recovery is very sluggish," said the group's senior economist, Lawrence Yun, adding that unnecessarily tight credit is continuing to restrain the market.

About 37 percent of the market consisted of distressed sales, which include both foreclosures and sales of homes where the bank agrees to take less than what is owed.

The median home price was $163,700 last month, down 5 percent from April year ago.