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Sales of existing homes fell 3.2% in October

Fewer Americans bought pre-owned homes last month, spooked by higher rates and by the government shutdown.
Fewer Americans bought pre-owned homes last month, spooked by higher mortgage rates, rising prices and by the government shutdown. Chuck Burton

Fewer house-hunters bought existing homes in October, as higher mortgage rates, the 16-day partial government shutdown, higher prices and a limited supply of homes reduced sales.

The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday that home re-sales fell 3.2 percent last month from September to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.12 million. That's down from a 5.29 million pace in August and the slowest since June.

Sales of existing single family homes declined 4.1 percent, while condominium sales rose 3.3 percent.

The median sales price of an existing home was $199,500 in October, up 12.8 percent from a year earlier and the 11th straight month of double-digit annual increases.

First-time home buyers accounted for just 28 percent of sales, down from 40 percent in healthier housing markets.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that U.S. business inventories rose more than expected in September as sales advanced modestly, suggesting the government's third-quarter growth estimate could be revised higher.