Sales of existing homes slid 6 percent in November in the United States, a drop analysts blamed on a smaller inventory of houses for sale and tight credit in the mortgage market.
The National Association of Realtors reported that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales in November was 4.93 million. That was a drop of 6.1 percent from the 5.25 million in October.
November was the slowest month since May, while October had the highest sales of the year.
Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, told the Wall Street Journal that the decline came in spite of factors that should have encouraged home sales, including an increase in the number of jobs and a strong stock market.
"Factors for improving home sales are rising," Yun said. "Today's decline, which is a large decline, is a bit puzzling and I think it will be a one-month aberration."
The number of homes on the market was 2.09 million, down 6.7 percent from October. '
Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, predicted housing sales will pick up as the labour market continues to grow. She said that while interest rates on mortgages are low at 3.8 percent, buyers without spotless credit records have trouble getting mortgages.
Almost one-third, 31 percent, of the buyers were purchasing their first home. The average for 2014 through November was 29 percent.
In spite of the drop in sales, November was the second consecutive month when sales were up from the same month in 2013.