Home Sales Perk Up, But Outlook Still Bleak

The Associated Press
existing home sales
existing home sales

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes rose slightly last month but remained at depressed levels. And more deals are being canceled at the last minute, a sign that even those who are looking to buy are worried about the housing market.

Home sales rose 1.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That's below the 6 million that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing market and slightly ahead of last year's sales - the worst in 13 years.

The sales are measured when buyers close on the homes.

Many deals are falling apart before that point. One third of Realtors say they've had at least one contract scuttled in October, up from 18 percent in September.