Existing home sales edge down, prices rise


U.S. home resales edged downward in March, a pause in the housing market recovery that has helped boost the economy.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday that existing home sales edged down 0.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million units.

Economist polled by Reuters had expected home resales to rise to a 5.01 million-unit rate.

The nation's inventory of existing homes for sale rose 1.6 percent during the month to 1.93 million. That represented 4.7 month's supply at March's sales pace, up from 4.6 in February.

More homes are expected to go on the market next month ahead of the summer buying season, said NAR economist Lawrence Yun.

Nationwide, the median price for a home resale rose to $184,300 in March, up 11.8 percent from a year earlier, the biggest increase since November 2005. The limited supply of available properties is pushing up home values.

The share of distressed sales, which also include those where the sales price was below the amount owed on the home, accounted for 21 percent of home resales last month, down from 25 percent a month earlier. It was the lowest since the NAR began tracking the number in October 2008 as the foreclosure crisis escalated.

(Reporting By Margaret Chadbourn)