US home sales tumbled 1.2 percent in January

In this Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, photo a price reduced for sale sign sit in front of a home in north Dallas. On Thursday, Feb. 21, the National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes in January. (LM Otero | The Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — U.S. home sales fell 1.2 percent in January to their worst pace in more than three years, as persistent affordability problems have put a harsh chill in the real estate market.

The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes declined 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million last month, the slowest sales rate since November 2015.

During the past 12 months, sales have plunged 8.5 percent. Would-be homebuyers are increasingly priced out of the market as years of climbing prices and strained inventories have made ownership too costly. Buyers may find some relief as average mortgage rates have declined this year.

The median sales price in January was $247,500, a slight increase of 2.8 percent from last year.

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