The housing market recovery in the U.S. appears to have hit a snag last month.
On Monday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that sales of previously owned homes dipped to an annualized rate of 4.92 million units in March. The 0.6% decline surprised economists who were expected the sale pace to rise to an annualized rate of 5 million units, Bloomberg noted.
While sales of previously owned homes slipped, prices rose. Last month, the media price for an existing home jumped 11.8% compared to the same time last year. That marked the largest year-over-year increase since 2005.
The inventory of previously-owned homes ticked up slightly last month, rising from 1.9 million in February, to 1.93 million. But that was down significantly from 2.32 million homes on the market last year.
An official with the NAR noted that the inventory of more expensive homes remained considerably larger than less expensive homes. The NAR also noted that distressed property sales comprised just 21% of home sales in March, the least level of sales since October 2008.
The news did nothing to help homebuilders. Shares of Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) and Ryland Group (NYSE:RYL) fell more than 2% in Monday morning trading, while D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) sank about 1%.