A shrinking property inventory caused the existing-home sales rate to edge lower in May from the previous month, but there were still significantly more transactions than a year earlier.
Existing-homes sales, including single-family properties, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops, fell 1.5 percent from April, according to the National Association of Realtors. This pushed the annual sales rate down to just 4.55 million units. However, this was 9.6 percent above the rate recorded in May 2011.
"The slight pullback in monthly home sales is more likely due to supply constraints rather than softening demand," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "The normal seasonal upturn in inventory did not occur this spring."
Even though the rate declined on a monthly basis, May marked 11 straight months of annual gains.
Real estate data shows the property inventory thinned 0.4 percent last month to an estimated 2.49 million units for sale, the report said. This represented a 6.6-month supply at the current sales rate, which was slightly higher than the previous month. However, the available inventory was down nearly 20 percent on an annual basis. Entering the peak season for housing activity last year, there was a 9.1-month supply.