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Existing home sales surge as interest rates point higher

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Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes bounced back in September to their strongest pace since January as worries about higher mortgage rates motivated buyers to get off the sidelines.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that existing homes sales rose 7% last month from August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.29 million units. That’s well above the 6.11 million economists were expecting, according to FactSet.

Sales were down 2.3% from September last year.

The median home prices jumped to $352,800, a 13.3% increase from September last year. The rise in prices continued to weigh on first-time buyers, who accounted for 28% of all sales last month. That's the lowest level since July 2015, the NAR said.

At the end of September, the inventory of unsold homes stood at just 1.27 million homes for sale, down 0.8% the previous month and down 13% from a year ago. At the current sales pace, that amounts to a 2.4 months’ supply, the NAR said.

Alex Veiga, The Associated Press