Surprise Spike in U.S. Existing Home Sales

Resales in home south of the border unexpectedly increased in September as the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma began to fade, but a persistent shortage of properties to buy and sell continued to weigh on overall activity.

Figures released mid-morning Friday by the National Association of Realtors revealed existing home sales moved up 0.7% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million units last month. August's sales pace was reportedly unrevised.

Economists looked to sales falling 1% to a rate of 5.30 million units last month. Sales were down 1.5% from September 2016, the first year-over-year decline since July 2016.

Harvey, which hit Texas in the last week of August, and Irma, which battered Florida in early September, had already affected sales for August. Texas and Florida make up more than 18% of the nation's existing home sales.

NAR said that Houston's market had recovered quickly, experiencing a 4% gain in September compared to a year ago. Florida's sales were still down 22% compared to this time last year.

Experts reckon that sales in the hurricane-affected areas will rebound further once delays in sales fade. However, the overall housing sector has been slowing as the number of properties available has not kept up with demand.