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US home prices cool as sales slump in pricey western cities


US home-price gains and sales slowed in the third quarter as higher mortgage rates cut into affordability, the National Association of Realtors said.

The national median price of a previously owned single-family home was US$266,900, up 4.8 per cent from a year earlier. In last year's third quarter, prices rose 5.3 per cent on an annual basis.

While the inventory of home listings is climbing, it is still historically low, and the job market is strong.

The combined forces of a tight supply and heightened demand are still driving up prices, albeit at a slower pace. Higher borrowing costs have made some buyers hesitate.

While supplies are adequate on the high end, there is an insufficient supply of low- to mid-priced homes, so would-be buyers in those segments are getting pushed out of the market.

The West, where affordability problems are most extreme, is seeing the biggest declines in home sales. While transactions nationwide fell 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, they dropped 7.9 per cent in the West.

Single-family home prices increased in the third quarter from a year earlier in 166 of the 178 metropolitan areas measured, the Realtors group said.

Eighteen regions had gains of 10 per cent or more, down from 24 in the second quarter. BLOOMBERG

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