WASHINGTON — Americans retreated from buying homes in July as sales sank to their lowest level of the year.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of existing homes fell 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million. Despite the second straight monthly drop, sales are 2.1 percent higher than a year ago. But purchases are starting to slow as fewer properties are coming onto the market.
The real estate market is grappling with the consequences of a persistent shortage of homes for sale despite strong demand from would-be buyers. The decline in listings has driven up prices and made many homes unaffordable: Prices are rising faster than the wages of potential buyers despite a solid job market.