Existing home sales fell in August for the fourth time in five months as buyers waited for more inventory and pinched their pennies.
The number of contracts closed last month declined 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.88 million from an upwardly revised 6 million in July. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refintiv were expecting a drop to 5.89 million contracts closed.
"Sales slipped a bit in August as prices rose nationwide," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Although there was a decline in home purchases, potential buyers are out and about searching, but much more measured about their financial limits, and simply waiting for more inventory."
The median existing home price for all types of housing was $356,700, up 14.9% from a year ago. August marked the 114th straight month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory at the end of August was 1.29 million units, down 1.5% from July and 13.4% from a year ago. Unsold inventory held at a 2.6-month supply, down from 3.0 months in August 2020.
Properties remained on the market for an average of 17 days, down from 22 days in August 2020.
The market's share of first-time buyers fell to 29%, down from 30% in August and 33% in August 2020.
Sales declined across all regions, falling 0.8% in the West, 1.4% in both the Midwest and Northeast and 3% in the South.