WASHINGTON — As housing officials hoped they’d finally seen the bottom of the housing market, things seemed to grow ever worse as available home prices declined steeply and inventory rose.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. said “I think we are at the beginning of the end of the housing downturn, but it is going to be a long and painful end.”

CUNA’s Chief Economist Bill Hampel told US News & World Report that “Looking ahead, the most important part of this month’s National Association of Realtor’s report is the increase in unsold homes on the market, to a very high 11.2 months’ supply. Further price reductions will be necessary to move the excess inventory.”

NAFCU’s May 27 Macro Flash Report on new home sales showed a slight uptick that was unexpected, but “the rebound came after March’s sales number was revised downward to the slowest pace in 17 years and still reflected a very weak pace of sales during April.” Median home prices remain volatile, said NAFCU, with further price decrease from builders being expected in order to reduce inventories.

Bargain hunters may be lured into the market, given lower prices, but getting home loans in a credit crunch may dampen any salutary effect.