Existing-home sales came in higher than expected for October, but prices continued to drop and housing inventories spiked to a new high.
Total sales of single-family homes and condos came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.24 million in October, up 0.5% from the upwardly revised September rate. But sales were down 11.5% from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Economists expected a rate of 6.14 million unit sales, according to
"I think the takeaway is that the pace of declines we have been seeing has flattened a bit. I'm not sure we have hit a bottom, though," says Phillip Neuhart, a Wachovia economic analyst.
Sales were flat to down across the country, with the exception of the West, which showed a 6.4% gain from September to October.
Median home prices fell 3.5% year over year to $221,000. The median is the typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.
Total inventories unexpectedly rose 1.9% to 3.85 million homes, representing 7.4 months of supply.
The rising supply number is bad news for homebuilders like
, which are aggressively cutting prices to move new homes.
On the other hand, the stronger-than-expected sales number could be a good sign for
, the country's largest franchisor of residential real estate brokerage houses such as Century 21.