WASHINGTON – Sales of existing homes slowed slightly in May but still came in at the second-highest level on record with home prices hitting an all-time high.
Sales of previously owned homes and condominiums edged down 0.7 percent last month, the National Association of Realtors (search) reported Thursday. The small decline left sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.13 million units, down only slightly from the 7.18 million sales pace in April, which had been an all time high.
Even with the small drop in sales, home prices moved higher, to an all-time record of $207,000 for the median price, the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less.
The new report was likely to do little to lessen concerns that the housing market in some parts of the country is caught in the grip of a speculative fever similar to bubble that was created in the stock market in the late 1990s before prices came crashing back to earth.
Federal Reserve (search) Chairman Alan Greenspan (search), while discounting the possibility of a national housing bubble, has talked of "froth" in local markets that have seen a sizable run-up in prices over the past year. He has also expressed concerns that home buyers are using types of mortgages that allow them to purchase more expensive homes with less of a downpayment, leaving them vulnerable if prices do fall sharply.