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Home sales, starts dampen further

Washington – 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, 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 continued to slide, falling by 14.6% last month to a seasonally adjusted pace of 1.49 million units, down from 1.66 million units 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 a level of 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.

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