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Continued: US housing recovery is facing an obstacle: Not enough homes are for sale

  • Article by: SCOTT MAYEROWITZ , Associated Press
  • Last update: May 1, 2013 - 1:36 PM

Their other hesitation, Maureen Hart says, is that "we haven't really found anything we would be comfortable moving into."

In many ways, the Harts need more homeowners like themselves to offer their properties for sale.

Some relief will also eventually come from faster construction. Builders broke ground on homes in March at the highest annual rate since June 2008. But construction firms aren't yet ready to return to the even greater levels of building needed to fill the housing shortage. They're worried about rising costs for materials and labor. And many have had trouble finding skilled workers.

The overall pace of homes under construction rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million in March, the Commerce Department reported. March's pace was nearly 46 percent higher than in the same month in 2012.

Analysts say prices and sales still need to climb further before builders ramp up construction. The prices that new homes are selling for still don't match the cost of construction.

For now, that leaves would-be buyers with few options. Agents urge their clients to act fast, knowing how fierce the competition is. But often, it's not quick enough.

Grand Rapids real estate agent Michelle Gordon says that on Monday mornings, she typically gets a list from her clients of six or seven homes they want to tour that Saturday.

By the time the weekend comes around, Gordon says, "I'm lucky if I have two to show."

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Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.

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