Sales of existing homes in the United States fell in August, and no region was spared in the stall, the National Association of Realtors said in a report Monday.
Existing-home sales, the bulk of the US housing market, dropped a hefty 4.8 percent to an annual rate of 5.31 million units, NAR said.
Sales slumped after three straight months of gains that had pushed the annual pace to a pre-recession high in July of 5.58 million homes, slightly revised downward from the originally reported figure.
The housing market has been one of the bright spots in the US economy, helping support a plodding recovery from the Great Recession.
The August fall was much larger than the 5.5 million houses pace analysts had expected. Year-over-year, though, sales were 6.2 percent higher than in August 2014.
Single-family homes led the August decline, with a 5.3 percent drop, but sales of condos and co-ops also fell, by 1.6 percent.
Sales fell in the Midwest, South and West, and were unchanged in the Northeast. The median sales price was $228,700, a 4.7 percent gain year-over-year.
Total inventory for sale rose 1.3 percent to 2.29 million, but was down 1.7 percent from a year ago. The number of homes for sale represented a 5.2–month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.9 months in July.
"Sales activity was down in many parts of the country last month -- especially in the South and West -- as the persistent summer theme of tight inventory levels likely deterred some buyers," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a statement.
"The good news for the housing market is that price appreciation the last two months has started to moderate from the unhealthier rate of growth seen earlier this year."
Analysts said the August pullback was a correction from the July surge as the housing market normalizes.
"The August decline in home sales seems to be a hiccup given that sales are still trending upward over the past year and that the residential construction pipeline is also expanding," said Andres Carbacho-Burgos of Moody's Analytics.