Sales of previously owned U.S. homes probably fell in May, showing an uneven recovery in residential real estate, economists said a report may show today.
Purchases dropped 1.1 percent to a 4.57 million annual rate last month, according to the median forecast of 74 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Jobless claims last week were little changed, other data may show.
“The housing market is recovering very slowly,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York. “I do see a pickup in demand throughout the year but it’s going to be very gradual. What we need to see probably is continued low mortgage rates. That will gradually continue to improve housing demand.”
The report from the National Association of Realtors is due at 10 a.m. in Washington. Bloomberg survey estimates ranged from 4.4 million to 4.73 million.
Existing-home sales, which are tabulated when a contract closes, have climbed since reaching a low of 3.39 million at an annual rate in July 2010. In the buildup to the subprime lending collapse and recession, purchases reached a peak of 7.25 million in September 2005.
“There are some good signs in housing, but nevertheless we are not getting the size of the boost, the amount of help in the recovery we would normally get from a housing recovery,” Bernanke said yesterday at a press conference in Washington after the Fed announced it would extend a program aimed at bolstering the economy.
“Access to credit is a major issue” for some Americans wanting to buy a home, Bernanke said. “Mortgage access is much tighter than it has been for a long time. What that does, to some extent, is it mutes the impact of the Fed’s actions.”