WASHINGTON — U.S. home sales fell 2.2% in September, as rising home prices and lower inventories have stifled homebuyers.
The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that homes sold last month declined at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.38 million units, ending a two-month streak of sales gains. Existing-home sales are up 3.9% from a year ago, but September’s stumble shows the limits of the boost that declining mortgage rates had been providing.
As average mortgage rates have fallen nearly a whole percentage point in the past year to 3.61% in September, economists say higher prices and a lack of listings have put a ceiling on the growth seen this past summer.
“The resale housing market is caught in a crosscurrent of conflicting forces,” said Shernette McLeod, an economist at TD Economics. “On one hand, lower mortgage rates and a strong labor market have improved buying conditions. On the other, the duo of low inventory and rising home prices have kept a lid on the pace of sales expansion.”