msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/20/2011 10:40:49 AM ET 2011-07-20T14:40:49

Sales of previously owned homes fell in June, defying expectations for even a slight pickup after a lousy spring selling season.

The National Association of Realtors said sales fell 0.8 percent month over month to an annual rate of 4.77 million units, the lowest since November, as cancellations of pending contracts surged. May's sales were unrevised at a 4.81 million-unit rate.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales to rise 2.9 percent to a 4.90 million-unit pace. In the 12 months to June, sales dropped 8.8 percent.

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After six months, sales are on pace to finish behind last year's 4.91 million homes sold — the weakest sales in 13 years. Sales have fallen in four of the past five years.

"It's like a broken record. The good news is bad news. It's steady and it's been steady for five months. But the pace is running well below historical averages. It's disappointing," said Carey Leahey, an economist at Decision Economics.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Existing Home Sales Fall in June

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