After a month of stagnation in August, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Friday showing existing home sales in the U.S. tumbled by much more than anticipated in the month of September.
NAR said existing home sales plunged by 3.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.15 million in September after edging down by 0.2 percent to a revised rate of 5.33 million in August.
Economists had expected existing home sales to drop by 0.7 percent to a rate of 5.30 million from the 5.34 million originally reported for the previous month.
With the much bigger than expected decrease, existing home sales slumped to their lowest annual rate since November of 2015.
"A decade's high mortgage rates are preventing consumers from making quick decisions on home purchases," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "All the while, affordable home listings remain low, continuing to spur underperforming sales activity across the country."
The report showed notable decreases in existing home sales in the South, West, and Northeast, while existing home sales in the Midwest were unchanged.
NAR said the median existing home price in September was $258,100, down 2.8 percent from $265,600 in August but up 4.2 percent from $247,600 in September of 2017.
Total housing inventory at the end of September decreased to 1.88 million existing homes available for sale, reflecting 4.4 months of supply at the current sales pace.
The report also said single-family home sales fell by 3.4 percent to an annual rate of 4.58 million, while existing condominium and co-op sales also dropped by 3.4 percent to a rate of 570,000.
Next Wednesday, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release a separate report on new home sales in the month of September.