WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - U.S. home sales increased more than expected in October as hurricane-related disruptions dissipated, but a chronic shortage of houses which is pushing prices beyond the reach of some first-time buyers remains an obstacle.
The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday that existing home sales rose 2.0 percent 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 polled by Reuters had forecast home sales rising 0.7 percent 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.
Sales in the South, which accounts for almost half of the existing homes sales market, increased 1.9 percent last month. There were also gains in sales in the Northeast, Midwest and West regions.
Existing home sales make up about 90 percent of U.S. home sales. They fell 0.9 percent on a year-on-year basis in October.
Home sales 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.
Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci