There was a 3.8 percent drop in sales of previously owned homes in May from April, the National Association of Realtors reports.
Also, the "seasonally adjusted annual rate" of 4.81 million was down 15.3 percent from May 2010, "when sales were surging to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit," NAR says.
The May pace was the slowest of the year so far and is another sign of how weak the housing market has been since its "bubble" burst several years ago. But NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says in a statement that some temporary factors also depressed sales last month:
"Spiking gasoline prices along with widespread severe weather hurt house shopping in April, leading to soft figures for actual closings in May. Current housing market activity indicates a very slow pace of broader economic activity, but recent reversals in oil prices are likely to mitigate the impact going forward. The pace of sales activity in the second half of the year is expected to be stronger than the first half, and will be much stronger than the second half of last year."