U.S. home resales unexpectedly fell in August, crimped by a shortage of inventory that is boosting home prices faster than the pace of wage growth.
The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday existing home sales declined 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 5.33 million units.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales rising 1.1 percent in August to a 5.45 million-unit pace.
July's sales pace was also revised lower to 5.38 million units from the previously reported 5.39 million units. However, despite sales being at their second-lowest pace of the year, home resales were still up 0.8 percent from one year ago. The housing market has been strengthening on the back of healthy job gains. The unemployment rate has hovered around 5 percent since August last year and a tightening labor market has begun to push up wages, although not enough to keep up with home price growth.
"We go back to the same bottom line: lack of inventory choices and prices rising way too fast," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.
Only the Northeast saw more sales in part, the NAR said, due to greater supply compared to the West, South and Midwest. First-time homebuyers made up 31 percent of existing home sales in August.