More than one in two companies in Germany's residential construction sector reported a lack of orders in April, according to a survey published on Friday, as Europe's largest economy faces its worst real estate crisis in decades.

In April, 55.2% of companies reported a lack of orders, down slightly from 56.2% the previous month, said the Ifo economic institute.

"Housebuilders are looking for signs of hope, but there's no end to the crisis in sight," said Klaus Wohlrabe, Ifo's head of surveys.

Although the business climate in residential construction brightened considerably, it remains deep in negative territory.

Expectations are therefore still far from optimistic: "The lack of orders is causing many companies to reduce their prices," said Wohlrabe.

Order cancellations also continue to remain a problem, according to Ifo. The number of companies reporting order cancellations was at 17.6% in April, down from 19.6% in March.

(Reporting by Marleen Kaesebier and Rene Wagner, Editing by Miranda Murray)