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NAR: Build more houses, please!

By Judy Martel ·
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Posted: 12 pm ET

Sales of existing homes hit their slowest pace since June, falling 3.2 percent from September to October, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The slowdown is expected, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a release. "The erosion in buying power is dampening home sales. Moreover, low inventory is holding back sales while at the same time pushing up home prices in most of the country."

Houses sell a little more slowly

The median price of $199,500 for existing homes was 12.8 percent higher in October from a year earlier and marked the 11th straight month of double-digit annual increases. Median time on market was 54 days, up from 50 days in September, but lower than the median of 71 days a year ago.

Lack of available homes for sale remains a major stumbling block for buyers, especially first-timers who are trumped by all-cash buyers. Areas with the tightest inventory are in California. The median age of inventory is only 30 days in Oakland and 48 days in San Francisco, San Jose and Stockton. Denver also has a median inventory age of 48 days.

Wanted: More houses and fewer cash buyers

"More new home construction is needed to help relieve the inventory pressure and moderate price gains," Yun noted.

First-time buyers accounted for 28 percent of home sales in October, down from 31 percent a year earlier. All-cash buyers accounted for 31 percent of sales, compared with 29 percent a year earlier.

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