Sales of previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly fell in January to a four-month low, indicating a shortage of available properties is increasingly hindering the real-estate industry, a National Association of Realtors report showed Wednesday.
Sales growth is limited by an acute shortage of inventory, which is pushing up home prices faster than wage growth. The group noted that property prices have jumped 41 percent over the past five years, while wages have gained 12 percent.
If the current pace of sales continues -- which NAR doesn’t anticipate -- purchases would be lower than in 2017. At the same time, steady hiring and elevated confidence to make large purchases, as well as tax cuts that are boosting Americans’ take-home pay, are expected to sustain demand for housing in much of the nation.