Sales of new US homes rebounded in August
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. home resales unexpectedly increased in September as the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma began to dissipate, but a persistent dearth of properties for sale continued to weigh on overall activity.
The National Association of Realtors said on Friday existing home sales rose 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million units last month. August’s sales pace was unrevised.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales falling 1.0 percent to a rate of 5.30 million units last month. Sales were down 1.5 percent from September 2016, the first year-over-year decline since July 2016.
Harvey, which hit Texas in the last week of August, and Irma, which battered Florida in early September, had already affected sales for August. Texas and Florida make up more than 18 percent of the nation’s existing home sales.
The NAR said that Houston’s market had recovered quickly, with a 4 percent gain in September compared to a year ago. Florida’s sales were still down 22 percent compared to this time last year.
Analysts expect that sales in the hurricane-affected areas will rebound further once delays in sales fade. However, the overall housing sector has been slowing as the number of properties available has not kept up with demand.
Supply was down 6.4 percent from a year ago. Housing inventory has declined on a year-on-year basis for more than two years.