From the WSJ:
Rising home prices are starting to catch up with buyers and may be leading some to put off buying for a little longer.
Existing home sales tumbled 4.8% in August to a 5.31 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, the National Association of Realtors said Monday, the steepest month-to-month decline since January, when they fell 4.9%. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected August sales would drop 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million.
Behind the decline were particularly big drops in the West and the South, two areas where prices have risen particularly sharply. In the South, where the median home price is up 6% over a year ago, month-to-month sales fell 6.6%. And in the West, where the median price rose 7.1% over the year, sales were down 7.8%.
Nationwide, the median home price hit $228,700 in August, a 4.7% increase over a year ago.
Analysts said they weren’t particularly troubled by the monthly decline, noting that year-over-year sales were up a robust 6.2%.
“Even with the decline, I believe we are comfortably set for the best home sales year in eight years,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.
J.P. Morgan economist Daniel Silver said he maintained “a relatively upbeat view on the housing market,” based on low inventory levels and a decrease in foreclosure sales.
“The August lull in existing home sales should prove short-lived because the fundamentals for housing remain highly supportive,” wrote Deutsche Bank economists Joseph LaVorgna, Brett Ryan and Aditya Bhave.
Gregory Daco, head of U.S. macroeconomics at Oxford Economics dismissed the August number as a “hiccup” in a note to clients.
“Rising employment, slowly accelerating wage growth, rising housing demand, slowing home price inflation and mortgage rates at historical lows will underpin greater housing demand and in turn sales through the remainder of the year and into 2016,” he wrote.