Sales of existing homes fell 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million for March, according to a National Association of Realtors report released today.

After February existing home sales clocked in at the lowest rate since July 2012, analysts had expected even worse for March. However, their 4.56 million rate estimate proved slightly too pessimistic. Sales are down a full 7.5% from March 2013. The numbers include completed transactions on single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and co-ops.

For the same month, the housing inventory soared 4.7% to 1.99 million existing homes. At the current sales rate, this represents a 5.2-month supply of existing homes, 4% more than February's rate.

As sales have slumped over the last year, the median sales price has advanced 7.9% to $198,500. The median time on the market fell one week from February's report to 55 days, and is also a week shorter than the median market time for March 2013 

According to National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, current sales aren't living up to historical trends – but they may soon:

There really should be stronger levels of home sales given our population growth. In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory shortages. With ongoing job creation and some weather delayed shopping activity, home sales should pick up, especially if inventory continues to improve and mortgage interest rates rise only modestly.

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