Home sales surge in October

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Driven by the first-time buyer tax credit, existing-home sales showed another big gain in October with a strong trend established during the last seven months, while inventories continue to decline, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing-home sales, including single-family, town homes, condominiums and co-ops, surged 10.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.10 million units in October from a downwardly revised pace of 5.54 million in September, and are 23.5 percent above the 4.94 million unit level in October 2008. Sales activity is at the highest pace since February 2007 when it hit 6.55 million.

Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 3.7 percent to 3.57 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a seven-month supply at the current sales pace, down from an eight-month supply in September. Unsold inventory totals are 14.9 percent below a year ago.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,100 in October, down 7.1 percent from October 2008. Distressed properties, which accounted for 30 percent of sales in October, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they usually sell at a discount relative to traditional homes in the same area.

Single-family home sales rose 9.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million in October from a pace of 4.86 million in September, and are 21.4 percent above the 4.39 million-unit pace in October 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $173,100 in October, down 6.8 percent from a year ago.

For information, visit www.realtor.org.

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