WASHINGTON — US sales of existing homes were unchanged in August, as a shortage of houses priced at less than $250,000 — a level considered to be affordable for the middle class — has become a drag on the real estate market.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.34 million. Existing home sales have fallen 1.5 percent during the past 12 months.
Price gains are moderating, and the total number of sales listings is increasing, a marked change from roughly three years’ worth of annual declines in inventory. But the sales momentum is increasingly concentrated on homes worth more than $500,000, while sales of homes worth less than $250,000 have tumbled over the past year.
There were 1.92 million existing homes for sale at the end of August, up from 1.87 million a year ago.
The median sales price in July increased 4.6 percent from a year ago to $264,800. Home prices are no longer climbing as quickly as they did in 2017 and 2016, although the gains are still greater than average wage growth.
Sales rose last month in the Northeast and Midwest, but they fell in the South and West.
Nationally, there has been a 1.7 percent decline in the sale of homes priced between $100,000 and $250,000 in the past year. But the sale of homes worth more than $1 million has jumped by 11.8 percent, a sign that the greater concentration of wealth among the top sliver of households is reshaping how the US housing market operates.