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May home prices drop as sellers fear a double dip

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The median home listing price in May dipped 1.6% compared to April, down to $188,900, according to one real estate listing website. According to the official website for the National Association of Realtors, May's median price was about 2.1% below a year earlier when government tax incentives were still driving consumer demand. The drop in price could be attributable to seller uncertainty of a double-dip in home prices. "The modest pull-back that occurred in May 2011 could signal seller concerns over widespread reports of a 'double-dip' in the housing market based on sales results for the first quarter of 2011," according to the website Realtor.com. "However, unless there is further retrenchment, the results for the past three months could be viewed as a positive indicator of future home pricing trends." Median listing prices fell in 126 out of 146 markets covered by Realtor.com. Twenty-three markets experienced a more than 5% decline in home price, 14 of which were in Florida. Chattanooga, Tenn. witnessed the largest price drop, down 17.8% between April and May to a median $145,000. That price is down 16.9% compared to May 2010. As prices fell, sale inventory grew. Realtor.com reported a 3.5% growth in inventory to a total 2.3 million listed properties in May. That figure is down 14.3% compared to one year earlier, however. The average number of days a home spent on the market decreased to 92 days in May from April. The age of market inventory has been gradually decreasing since the beginning of 2011 and is now roughly equal to the age seen last summer. Write to Christine Ricciardi.

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