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Sales of U.S. homes rise 5.6% in November

December 22, 2010 |  7:34 am

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Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose over the prior month but remained considerably weak when compared with the brisk pace set last year, when tax credits for buyers fueled the market.

The National Assn. of Realtors said Wednesday that homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million units. That was a 5.6% increase from October but a 27.9% decrease from November 2009, when buyers were rushing to complete deals to qualify for the federal tax credit.

Several economists have said they expect the U.S. housing market to remain constrained by scaled-back bank lending and the poor economy dampening prospects for buyers.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the real estate group, said he was hopeful that the economy would improve next year, lifting the housing market.

"Continuing gains in home sales are encouraging, and the positive impact of steady job creation will more than trump some negative impact from a modest rise in mortgage interest rates," Yun said.

The national median home price was $170,600 in November, up 0.4% from November 2009. Sales of distressed homes accounted for 33% of sales in November.

Total housing inventory at the end of November fell 4% to 3.71 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.5-month supply at the current pace, a decline from the 10.5-month supply in October.

-- Alejandro Lazo

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