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Pulte profit falls as labor shortage hurts home sales

* Revenue declines 5.5 pct; profit falls 23 pct

* Expenses include charge of $20 mln

* Shares fall as much as 7.2 pct

* Other homebuilder stocks also fall (Adds details from conference call, CFO comment)

By Ankit Ajmera

Oct 22 (Reuters) - PulteGroup Inc's quarterly profit fell more than a fifth as the No.3 U.S. homebuilder sold fewer homes due to construction delays from labor shortages and recorded charges related to litigation costs.

The company's shares fell as much as 7.2 percent to a more- than-year low of $18.04 on Thursday.

The weak results pulled down other homebuilder stocks and the PHLX Housing Index was down about 1 percent.

U.S. homebuilders have been grappling with a shortage of qualified construction workers as low wages fail to attract talent.

The median hourly wage for a construction laborer in the United States was $15.12 in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared with $19.64 for carpenters, $23.73 for electricians and $40.24 for construction managers. (http://1.usa.gov/1MUWvok)

Pulte is paying more to attract and retain labor, leading to an increase in costs, Chief Financial Officer Bob O'Shaughnessy said during a conference call with analysts.

The company reported an 8.3 percent jump in selling, general and administrative expenses in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

Revenue dropped 5.5 percent to $1.51 billion.

Pulte's overall home sales fell to 4,356 units in the quarter from 4,646 a year earlier, declining across the United States, except in the northeast and southeast markets.

Growth in average selling prices slowed sharply to 0.6 percent from 8 percent a year earlier and 1.2 percent in the second quarter.

The fall in home sales was the steepest at 15 percent in Texas, the company's fourth-biggest market in terms of revenue.

Net new orders rose 8.3 percent. However, the orders fell 5 percent in Texas.

Pulte said it continued to see oil-related weakness at higher priced homes in Houston and San Antonio regions in Texas.

The company's net income fell 23 percent to $107.8 million, or 30 cents per share.

Pulte's expenses included a charge of $20 million to increase reserves following an unfavorable verdict.

The quarter also included $9 million in charges linked to litigation-related reserve adjustments.

Pulte's shares were down 6.6 percent at $18.15 in afternoon trade.

D.R. Horton Inc's shares were down nearly 2 percent at $30.83, while KB Home was down 4.4 percent at $13.65.

Toll Brothers Inc's shares were down 1.2 percent at $36.15.

Up to Wednesday's close of $19.45 on the New York Stock Exchange, the stock had fallen about 9 percent this year, while the Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction index gained about 13 percent during the period.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Sriraj Kalluvila)