WASHINGTON Existing home sales fell 1.2 percent in October to a record low 4.97 million-unit pace, according to a report on Wednesday that showed the downturn in the U.S. housing market was deepening.
Home prices fell at a record pace and the inventory of homes for sales increased as the housing market felt the pinch of tighter lending standards.
The median existing home price fell 5.1 percent from a year ago to $207,800 and the total housing inventory rose 1.9 percent in October to 4.45 million existing homes for sale, a 10.8 month supply at the current sales pace.
The sales pace was the lowest since the realty trade group began tracking both single-family and condo sales jointly in 1999.
Economists polled by Reuters were expecting home resales to fall to a 5.00 million-unit pace from the 5.04 million-unit rate initially reported for September. The September sales pace was revised to a 5.03 million unit rate.
Lawrence Yun, the NAR chief economist, blamed the poor home selling market on a continuing credit crunch and failing subprime loans that were offered to borrowers despite their shaky credit.
"The subprime market has essentially disappeared," he said.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Tom Hals)