Sales of existing homes cool off again in April amid tight supply

Tight supply dents U.S. home sales

The U.S. housing market's stop-and-start recovery slowed again in April as home sales dipped.

Sales of previously owned homes fell 3.3% in the month, according to figures released Thursday by the National Assn. of Realtors. The median price climbed 8.9% compared with a year ago, the 38th consecutive month of annual gains.

The Realtors group's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, pegged the sales dip -- which came one month after existing home sales hit their highest level in almost two years -- on tight supply in many parts of the country. Homes are selling in an average of 39 days, their fastest clip since June 2013, and that's driving prices up.

"April's setback is the result of lagging supply relative to demand and the upward pressure it's putting on prices," Yun said. "Housing inventory declined from last year and supply in many markets is very tight, which in turn is leading to bidding wars, faster price growth and properties selling at a quicker pace."

Demand from buyers remains strong, the Realtors say, fueled by low interest rates and the improving job market. That could cool off again, Yun warns, if prices continue to rise faster than incomes.

Sales in the West fell 1.7%, while prices climbed 10% from last year.

Keep an eye on housing and real estate in Southern California. Follow me on Twitter at @bytimlogan

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