The National Association of Realtors Friday morning reported existing home sales fell 1.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units in April from an upwardly revised pace of 4.94 million in March, 17.5% percent below April 2007. It was the second consecutive month of declines reported by the NAR.

Inventory of existing homes, meanwhile, rose 10.5% to 4.55 million, an 11.2-month supply, up from 10 months in March.

Single-family home sales were off half as much, by 0.5%, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.34 million, 16.1% below last April. The median existing single-family home price was $200,700 in April, down 8.5% from April 2007 but up about a half-percentage point from March.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $202,300, down 8% from a year ago but also up marginally from March.

Condominium and co-op sales fell 5.2% to rate of 550,000 units, 27.9% below last April. The median existing condo price was $214,900 in April, which is 3.7% below a year ago and down 2% from March.

Regionally, sales in the West rose 6.4% to 1 million, 15.3% below a year ago, with the median price down 16.7% to $285,700. In the South, sales were unchanged flat with March at a rate of 1.92 million, 18.6% below a year ago, with the median price dropping 5.1% to $170,800. The Northeast was down 4.4% to 870,000, down 14.7% from a year ago, and the median price was off 7.7% to $262,000. The Midwest dropped 6% to 1.10 million, 19.7% lower than April2007 with the median price falling 2.9% to $159,100.

The Realtors blamed the decrease primarily on restrictive lending policies but noted that banks have started easing up and that mortgage interest rates have recently begun to decline. "A recent notable drop in interest rates on conforming jumbo loans will help consumers in high-cost markets like California and New York," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. He added, "Some markets like San Diego, Calif., and Fort Myers, Fla., are experiencing rising sales after sudden double-digit drops in local home prices, so lower prices and low interest rates are starting to generate results."