houseThere’s a paradox in Monday’s existing-home-sales data.

Sales slid 7.1% to the lowest pace since November, the National Association of Realtors said. NAR has warned for many months that low levels of supply, which are pushing prices ever higher, will eventually cripple the market.

February’s decline may be a sign that the Realtors’ fears are coming true, although it may still turn out to be a temporary blip caused by weather, new closing regulations, and the difficulties of adjusting data to account for all those anomalies.

Still, as NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement, “the main issue continues to be a supply and affordability problem. Finding the right property at an affordable price is burdening many potential buyers.”

That may sound obvious: if you can’t afford the few limited options available on the market, you’d probably give up too. It also tracks with a survey NAR published last week, which found that the share of current renters who say now is a good time to buy fell in the most recent quarter.

But it’s worth remembering, as Yun pointed out in a press conference Monday morning, that it wasn’t too long ago that higher prices drew more buyers in, rather than shutting them out.

By Andrea Riquier at Marketwatch.com

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