Sales of existing homes fell 3.8% in June, to 5.75 million units, from a downwardly revised pace of 5.98 million in May, a drop of 11.4% from June 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Realtor group said the inventory of unsold homes fell 4.2% to 4.20 million in June, but it also reported that the supply number remained at 8.8 months, where it stood in May. It also reported an increase in the median price of homes. The NAR said the median price for all housing types was $230,100 in June, up 0.3% from June 2006. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less, which means that the increase is likely due to the collapse of the bottom end of the market as subprime mortgage money has dried up.

Single-family existing home sales fell 3.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.01 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.19 million in May, 12.1% below June 2006. The median price was $230,300, up 0.1% from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were off 6.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 740,000 units in June from 790,000 in May, 6.6% below a year ago. The median existing condo price was $228,900, up 2.6% from June 2006.

Said Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, "Home buyers have been getting mixed signals about the housing market, which is causing some of them to hesitate. Mortgage interest rates have risen recently, and tightening lending standards are continuing to hamper sales, but fewer risky loans will put the market on a healthier path."

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 6.66% in June, up from 6.26% in May and roughly even with 6.68% in June 2006.

"Two bright spots in the June report are a decline in housing inventory and a modest gain in home prices," Yun said. "Although we¹ve seen seasonal month-to-month price increases over the past four months, this is the first time in 11 months that the median home price is higher than the year-ago price."

Regionally, the South was off 1.7% to an annual sales rate of 2.26 million in June, 11.4% below a year ago, with the median price up 0.7% from June 2006 to $190,800. Midwest sales fell 2.8% to an annualized rate of 1.37 million, 8.1% below last June, with a 1.5% drop in the median price to $171,700. Sales in the West dropped 6.8% to an annualized rate of 1.10 million, 19.1% lower than June 2006, with the median price off 0.4% from last year to $340,000. Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 7.3% to a level of 1.01 million in June, 7.3% below June 2006, with the median price up 1.8% to $294,400.