The Econoday consensus expected a small increase in existing home sales in August.

Instead, sales decline a substantial 1.7%. The August decline follows a 1.3% decline in July.

Fourth Drop in Five Months

MarketWatch reports Existing Home Sales Fall in August for the Fourth Time in Five Months.

Existing home sales in August dropped for the fourth time in five months as real-estate agents continue to blame a lack of available homes to buy.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 1.7% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.35 million. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 5.44 million pace.

The median existing-home price in August was $253,500, up 5.6%.

Total housing inventory at the end of August declined 2.1% to 1.88 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 6.5% lower than a year ago.

Harvey Impact

The Wall Street Journal reports A sharp drop in sales in Houston, which was racked by Hurricane Harvey, accounted for most of the overall decline.

Existing-home sales fell 1.7% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a rate of 5.45 million sales in August.

Sales have risen just 0.2% over the past year.

A sharp drop in home sales in Houston, which was racked by Hurricane Harvey last month, accounted for most of the overall decline in home sales, NAR economist Lawrence Yun said. He estimated overall sales would have been flat from the prior month without the hurricane effects.

Housing Starts Down Again

Yesterday, the Census Bureau New Residential Construction report shows housing starts declined again in August but July starts were revised substantially higher. Still, starts have lost momentum and are only up 1.4% from a year ago.

Weakness in Starts, Existing Home Sales, Autos

Both starts and existing sales show considerable weakness.

With auto sales in a distinct downturn, it’s difficult to find drivers for economic growth.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock