Existing-Home Sales Fall in August, Snapping Four Months of Gains

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

Sales of previously owned homes fell in August, as investors pulled back, a trade group said Monday.

Existing-home sales declined 1.8 percent from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million, the National Association of Realtors said. The decline ended four consecutive monthly gains and defied expectations of an increase to about 5.2 million.

The trade group blamed the drop-off on fewer all-cash offers from investors, who have noticeably retreated from the market this year as higher prices made their bets less attractive.

All-cash deals accounted for 23 percent of August sales, down from 29 percent in July and the lowest share since December 2009, the Realtors said. Individual investors scooped up 12 percent of homes in August, compared with 16 percent in July and 17 percent a year earlier.

However, the trade group’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said sales remain higher than earlier this year.

“As long as solid job growth continues, wages should eventually pick up to steadily improve purchasing power and help fully release the pent-up demand for buying,” he said in a statement.

The lack of such wage growth has depressed sales this year. Home prices climbed far faster than incomes in 2013, pricing many would-be buyers out of the market.

August sales were 5.3 percent below a year earlier, and homes are taking longer to sell.

In August, a home typically stayed on the market for 53 days, compared with 48 days in July and 43 days in August 2013.