Home Resales in U.S. Surprise

Home sales increased more than expected south of the border in October as hurricane-related disruptions eased off, but a chronic shortage of houses remains an obstacle, pushing house prices out of the reach of first-time buyers.

The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday that existing home sales rose 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million units last month. September's sales pace was revised down to 5.37 million units from the previously reported 5.39 million units.

Economists had forecast home sales rising 0.7% to a 5.42 million-unit rate in October. The NAR said sales in Houston and Jacksonville, regions which bore the brunt of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, had rebounded. Sales in South Florida, however, remained weak last month.

Existing home sales make up about 90% of U.S. home sales. They fell 0.9% on a year-on-year basis in October.

Home sales stateside remained well below a 10-year-high 5.70 million-unit pace touched in March. Sales have been restrained by an acute shortage of properties, which is exerting upward pressure on house prices, and sidelining some first-time buyers.