A gauge of contracts to purchase previously-owned U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in January to a more than three-year low, reflecting a shortage of inventories and rising mortgage rates, according to data released Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors in Washington. The Realtors’ latest forecast for a decline in home sales this year would be the first annual decrease since 2014. The property market is settling into a cooler pace as there aren’t enough affordable listings to choose from. Rising property prices remain a hurdle, and prospective buyers also are facing an acceleration in mortgage costs.
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