U.S. Existing Home Sales Pull Back Much More Than Expected In September

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After reporting an unexpected jump in existing home sales in the previous month, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Tuesday showing existing home sales pulled back by much more than anticipated in the month of September.

NAR said existing home sales plunged by 2.2 percent to an annual rate of 5.38 million in September after jumping by 1.5 percent to an upwardly revised 5.50 million in August.

Economists had expected existing home sales to drop by 0.7 percent to a rate of 5.45 million from the 5.49 million originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the monthly pullback, the report said existing home sales in September were up by 3.9 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun suggested a low level of new housing options has prevented home sales from increasing commensurately with historically low mortgage rates.

"We must continue to beat the drum for more inventory," Yun said. "Home prices are rising too rapidly because of the housing shortage, and this lack of inventory is preventing home sales growth potential."

The report said the median existing-home price for all housing types was $272,100 in September, down 2.4 percent from $278,000 in August but up 5.9 percent from $256,900 a year ago.

Total housing inventory at the end of September represented 4.1 months of supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.0 months in August but down from 4.4 months in September of 2018.

NAR said single-family home sales tumbled by 2.6 percent to a rate of 4.78 million in September, more than offsetting a 1.7 percent jump in existing condominium and co-op sales to a rate of 600,000.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new home sales in the month of September.

New home sales are expected to slump by 1.7 percent to an annual rate of 701,000 in September after spiking by 7.1 percent to a rate of 713,000 in August.

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