Home sales fell in April amid supply squeeze

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WASHINGTON — Americans pulled back their pace of homebuying in April, as the shrinking number of houses for sale and rising prices are putting them in a bind as their options dwindle.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that sales of existing homes declined 2.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million. Still, a stable job market has supported solid demand from buyers as home purchases are 1.6 percent higher than a year ago.

But the specter of fewer homes for sale is starting to squeeze the market. Would-be buyers are mobbing open houses as sales are occurring on the shortest timeline ever recorded by the Realtors. The inventory of homes for sale has declined annually for the past 23 months, creating a shortage that has pushed up prices above income growth.

The number of properties listed for sale has plunged 9 percent in the past 12 months to 1.93 million. Homes are staying on the market for a median of just 29 days, the shortest period since the Realtors began tracking this metric in 2011. The fast-moving market has fueled rising home values that have priced some entry-level buyers out of the market.

The median sales price has risen 6 percent from a year ago to $244,800. The sales volume of homes worth less than $250,000 has declined in the past year, while homes worth more than the median have experienced sales growth.