New U.S. single-family home sales fell less than expected in August, though prices fell and inventories rose.
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The Commerce Department said on Monday new home sales fell 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 609,000 units last month. Sales were up 20.6 percent from a year ago.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast single-family home sales, which account for roughly 10 percent of all home sales, falling to a rate of 600,000 units last month.
July's sales pace was revised up 5,000 units to 659,000 units. That level of annualized sales is the highest since October 2007.
Another housing report last week showed a solid increase in permits for single-family dwellings as the housing market continues to strengthen overall amid a tightening labor market that is pushing up wages.
New home sales have also benefited from a dearth of previously owned houses available for sale.
Last month, the inventory of new homes on the market rose 1.7 percent to 235,000 units.
New single-family home sales fell 34.3 percent in the Northeast and 2.4 percent in the Midwest. Sales declined 12.3 percent in the South but rose 8.0 percent in the West.
At August's sales pace it would take 4.6 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 4.2 months in July.
The median price for a new home fell 5.4 percent from a year ago to $284,000.
(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci)