Sales for previously owned homes in the US fall for third month

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US existing-home sales fell for the third consecutive month in November as the housing market recovery slows, an industry group reported Thursday.

Sales of previously owned homes dropped 4.3 per cent to an annual rate of 4.90 million units in November from 5.12 million in October, the National Association of Realtors said.

Year-over-year, sales were 1.2 per cent lower than the pace of 4.96 million in November 2012.

It was the first time in 29 months that sales of existing homes, the majority of the US housing market, were below the year-ago level, the NAR said.

"Home sales are hurt by higher mortgage interest rates, constrained inventory and continuing tight credit," Mr Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement.

Pent-up demand for both rental and owner-occupied housing is facing a limited housing supply, due to the slow recovery in new home construction, Yun said.

The national median price for existing homes was US$196,300 (S$247,100) in November, up 9.4 per cent from November 2012.

The single-digit increase year-over-year snapped an 11-month streak of double-digit gains. The NAR reported last month that the median price in October was $199,500, up 12.8 per cent from a year ago.