LOS ANGELES – The homebuyer tax credit party is over and the hangover may be just beginning.

KB Home on Friday became the latest homebuilder to report a sharp drop in new home orders in the three months ended in May as federal tax incentives aimed at spurring home sales expired.

The builder’s orders plunged 23 percent versus the same quarter last year. On Thursday, rival Lennar Corp. reported a 10 percent drop in orders, with the slide taking place entirely in the weeks after the tax credits expired on April 30.

The weak orders highlight concerns over whether the housing market recovery, already hampered by high unemployment and foreclosures, could stall in the absence of government help.

In addition to disappointing orders, KB reported a smaller quarterly loss but it missed Wall Street expectations. KB Home shares fell $1.10, or 9 percent, to close at $11.12 after hitting a 52-week low of $11.05 earlier in the trading session.

Chief Executive Jeffrey Mezger said homebuyers who missed the tax credit deadline appear to have put their plans to buy a home on hold for awhile. He declined to say how orders are faring this month.

“It’s still too early in the third quarter to determine where demand will go from here,” Mezger said.

“In the short term, the market is bouncing along the bottom, but it is only a matter of when — not if — things are going to improve.”

Lennar, based in Miami, said a day earlier that its orders in June are running as much as 25 percent below a year ago, but noted demand appears to be improving.

Nationally, sales of new homes collapsed in May, sinking 33 percent to the lowest level on record.