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The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of existing homes fell 1.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million. Would-be buyers face supply constraints: The number of properties for sale has dwindled 5.7 percent from a year ago to 1.64 million units.
Affordability has also been a persistent challenge. The median home sales price has climbed 5.4 percent from a year ago to $257,400, outpacing wage growth.
Still, lower mortgage rates have provided a base of demand. Over the past 12 months, the decline in the typical mortgage rate from 4.9 percent to 3.8 percent this November helped to boost sales 2.7 percent.
The housing market has enjoyed nearly eight years of rising prices, steadily recovering from the Great Recession that was triggered in large part by subprime mortgages and a wave of foreclosures. But the recovery in prices has proved to be a barrier for first-time buyers: With fewer starter homes priced below $250,000 on the market, sales at that level have declined over the past year.
November's decline in existing home sales came from the South and West. Sales increased in the Northeast and Midwest.