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Home Sales, Starts Dampen

The broad U.S. housing market continued to lose steam during October, hobbled by falling home prices and buyer and builder skittishness.

The big market for existing homes, which accounts for more than 70% of all housing activity, saw sales barely budge, up 0.5% to a seasonally adjusted 6.2 million units. There was a drop in condominium sales, which offset a 1.3% increase in sales of single-family homes, the National Association of Realtors reported.

Over the past 13 months, sales of existing homes held up better than other segments of the market, but have still fallen by 11.8% from an all-time high of 7.1 million units last year.

Housing starts fell by 14.6% to a seasonally adjusted pace of 1.49 million units, down from 1.66 million in September.

Starts have plunged by more than a third, or 34.3%, since reaching a 13-month high of 2.3 million units last January.

New home sales fell by 3.2% to 1.0 million, giving up most of the 3.7% increase recorded in September. New home sales have fallen by 25.4% since a recent high of 1.3 million units in October 2005.

HOUSING BY REGION
Month-To-Month % Change

EXISTING HOME SALES HOUSING STARTS NEW HOME SALES
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce and National Association of Realtors
Northeast 1.4% 5.7% -15.7%
Midwest 1.4 18.8 55.5
South -4.2 10.6 -16.3
West -7.2 7.9 6.3


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