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November U.S. existing home sales miss forecast

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Sales of previously owned homes rose less in November than analysts expected—providing more evidence that the U.S. housing sector is struggling to gain traction in the face of high unemployment and tight lending standards.  

Sales rose 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual unit rate of 4.68 million units, said the National Association of Realtors. Economists polled by Reuters had been looking for a pace of about 4.71 million units.   

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said about one-third of the market consisted of distressed sales—including both foreclosures and sales of homes where the bank agrees to take less than what is owed.   

Overall sales have fallen 27.9 percent over the past year, while median prices have risen 0.4 percent to $170,600 US in the same period. That marks the first annual price increase since August.   

Yun said the group expects sales to total about 4.8 million units for all of 2010. He expects sales to rebound to what he considers a ‘healthy’ pace of around 5.2 million by 2011.

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