WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S. home resales jumped to their highest level in more than a year in October and outpaced the sales level a year ago for the first time in 2014, further evidence the housing market is on a recovery path.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) on Thursday said existing home sales rose 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 5.26 million units, the highest rate since September of last year. Sales rose 2.5 percent compared to a year ago, the first time since October 2013 that nesales have risen above the prior-year levels.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales falling to a 5.16 million-unit pace, from an upwardly revised rate of 5.18 million units in September.
"This is the first time in the year where we have seen a year over year annual gain, which means that existing home sales have made that successful U-turn," Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, told reporters.
Housing is slowly regaining its footing after activity stalled in the second half of 2013 following a run-up in mortgage rates. While the sector continues to be hobbled by sluggish wage growth, a recent decline in mortgage rates should help support sales.
A separate report this week from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed applications for loans to purchase homes surged last week as low rates lured potential buyers. (Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Paul Simao)