Existing-home sales in U.S. fell to one-year low after Harvey

By Sara Shayanian  |  Sept. 20, 2017 at 1:42 PM
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Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Sales of existing U.S. homes dropped to a one-year low for the month of August -- partially due to Hurricane Harvey's impact in southeast Texas, an industry report showed Wednesday.

Total existing home sales -- transactions including single-family homes and townhouses -- fell 1.7 percent last month, bringing July's total of 5.44 million down to 5.35 million in August, the National Association of Realtors said in their monthly analysis.

Despite solid U.S. demand for buying homes, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the summer home sales slump crept into August.

"What's ailing the housing market and continues to weigh on overall sales is the inadequate levels of available inventory and the upward pressure it's putting on prices in several parts of the country," Yun said in the NAR statement. "Sales have been unable to break out because there are simply not enough homes for sale."

The total housing inventory at the end of August declined to 1.88 existing homes for sale -- a 6.5 drop from a year ago. The sales pace was the lowest since August 2016, the report said.

The South and West are in the most decline, the report said -- a reflection of the infrastructure devastation brought on by Hurricane Harvey. Similar damage from Irma is expected to influence September's figures and likely beyond, the report said.

"Sales will be impacted the rest of the year in Houston, as well as in the most severely affected areas in Florida from Hurricane Irma. However, nearly all of the lost activity will likely show up in 2018," Yun said.

At the same time, "whatever is showing up is being snatched up quickly" by buyers," Yun added.

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