The U.S. housing market delivered bad news on Thursday, with existing home sales falling well below expectations in March and a downward revision to February's increase.

Existing home sales contracted 3.0% in March against expectations for a 1.5% decline, and following a downwardly revised 4.9% gain in February, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales of single-family homes dropped 2.8% following a 4.2% increase in February, while sales of condos and other multiple-family units fell 4.1% against an 11.4% increase the month prior.

The average price of a single-family home in March was $217,500.

By Megan Ainscow and edited by Sarah Sussman
©CEP News Ltd. 2009