By Bob Willis

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. unexpectedly rose from a record low, propelled by the biggest slump in prices since the Great Depression as foreclosures surged.

Purchases rose 6.5 percent to an annual rate of 4.74 million from 4.45 million in November that was less than previously estimated, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median price dropped 15 percent from a year ago, the biggest decline since records began in 1968 and probably the biggest in seven decades, according to the group.

 

“You have to put it in the context of an even steeper decline for the previous month,” said David Sloan, a senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York, who had the highest projection in the Bloomberg News survey. “The net trend is still negative. It does seem that some cheap prices are attracting buyers. I don’t think it’s a clear sign of a revival in the housing market. The housing market is very weak.” 

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