The number of pre-owned homes sold in the US fell at its fastest rate for three years in January.
Figures released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show the number of existing homes sold slumped by 3.2% to 5.4 million in December.
The numbers were 4.8% down on January 2017 – the biggest fall since August 2014.
Squeezing out buyers
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says the figures highlight the acute shortage of housing stock in the US, which is pushing up prices – and squeezing out many first-time buyers.
“The utter lack of sufficient housing supply and its influence on higher home prices muted overall sales activity in much of the US last month,” he said.
“While the good news is that realtors in most areas are saying buyer traffic is even stronger than the beginning of last year, sales failed to follow course and far lagged last January’s pace.
He added: “It’s very clear that too many markets right now are becoming less affordable and desperately need more new listings to calm the speedy price growth.”
The median existing-home price for all types of housing in January was $240,500, up 5.8% from January 2017's figure of $227,300. January’s increase was the 71st straight month of year-on-year price rises.