The National Association of Realtors reported that sales by homeowners jumped in September to an annual pace of 5.18 million, up 1.4% from a year ago. It was the first time that sales rose compared to a year earlier since November 2005.
September sales were up 5% from the August reading of 4.91 million, marking the largest month-to-month increase since July 2003. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected the report to show existing home sales rose to an annual pace of 4.95 million.
Though the numbers were encouraging, they do not yet suggest the problems in the housing market are behind us. September's numbers represent contracts signed in July or August - before the mid-September credit crunch tightened the stranglehold on lending and sent confidence in the economy crashing. Sales figures for October and November are likely to reflect this credit freeze.