Sales of previously owned homes rose less than expected in November, suggesting the U.S. housing sector is struggling to gain traction as high unemployment and tight lending standards continue to hamper recovery.
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Sales rose 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual unit rate of 4.68 million units, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters had been looking for a pace of about 4.71 million units.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said about one-third of the market consisted of distressed sales, which include both foreclosures and sales of homes where the bank agrees to take less than what is owed.
Overall sales have fallen 27.9 percent over the past year, while median prices have risen 0.4 percent to $170,600 in the same period. That marks the first annual price increase since August.
Yun said the group expects sales to total about 4.8 million units for all of 2010. He expects sales to rebound to what he considers a "healthy" pace of around 5.2 million by 2011.