Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Scarce inventory could limit home sales, boost prices

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January's pending home sales numbers suggest that inventory shortages will mean a less dramatic increase in sales this year than last, but that home prices will show stronger gains, the National Association of Realtors said today.Pending home sales were up 4.5 percent from December to January and 9.5 percent from a year ago. At 105.9, NAR's Pending Home Sales Index was at its highest level since April 2010, when home buyer tax credits helped fuel demand.An index of reading of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, when the index was created. Existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which NAR said would be considered normal for the current U.S. population.Yun is forecasting 5.0 million existing-home sales this year, down from a previous esimate of 5.1 million. He thinks home price growth could exceed 7 percent, up from a previous estimate of 5.5 to 6.0 percent."Favorable affordability conditions and job growth have unleas...