Home Buyers Are Eager but Sellers Are Scarce, Creating ‘Real Gridlock’

The market also may thaw as demand from frustrated buyers is met by home builders, which “historically created first-time home opportunities and move-up opportunities,” said Mr. Teta of Attom.

A lack of inventory of existing homes appears to be pushing buyers to newly built homes, a smaller market where sales have held up better. Sales of new single-family homes jumped nearly 10 percent in March from the month before, according to the Census Bureau.

The National Association of Realtors forecasts that sales of new homes will increase 4.5 percent this year and 12 percent in 2024. It expects existing-home sales to drop about 9 percent this year and then bounce back in 2024.

And there are always reasons that reluctant homeowners could be compelled to sell, like job relocations, downsizing or divorce, said Iliana Abella, executive director of sales at the Abella Group, a real estate brokerage in Miami.

“If you are planning to stay in your home for longer than five years, 6 percent is not going to kill you,” she said of current interest rates.

Still, many homeowners are content to wait.

Ellen Goldman, a 72-year-old retired lawyer in Naples, Fla., is looking to downsize. She and her husband, Sam Savage, have lived in their two-story home since 2004, but realize that the stairs will get more difficult as they age.

“We both work out, and it’s not an issue,” Ms. Goldman said, adding that “we want to make the move now before it becomes too hard.”

But they are in no rush. “We don’t have to do this,” she said, as they keep an eye on local prices. “We would be fine staying, too.”

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