Existing Home Sales Fall More Than Expected

U.S. existing home sales fell more than expected in September as banks tightened lending standards ahead of the removal of some government support for mortgages, the National Association of Realtors said.

Sales dropped 3.0 percent to an annual rate of 4.91 million units, the NAR said on Thursday. Forecasters in a Reuters poll had been looking for a 2.0 percent fall.

Sales fell 8.8 percent in the West of the United States, which NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun blamed in part on lenders cutting back on making bigger loans ahead of the Oct. 1 expiration of government backing for some "jumbo" mortgages.