Existing-Home Sales Jump 10 Percent

From MSNBC.com: September Surge the Biggest Monthly Gain in 28 Years

WASHINGTON — Sales of previously occupied homes jumped 10 percent in September, an industry group said Monday. It was the biggest monthly gain in 28 years.

The monthly gain was bigger than expected, indicating the housing market is stabilizing at weaker levels and continues to struggle.

The National Association of Realtors said sales increased 10 percent from August, rising for a second straight month, to an annual rate of 4.53 million units. August’s sales pace was revised slightly down to a 4.12 million-unit pace.

“This was considerably higher than expectations, but it is not time to break out the champagne bottle,” noted Michelle Meyer, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York.

“The increases in August and September are largely a payback from the collapse in home sales in July,” she added. “So, although home sales are better than the previous two months, they are still considerably below the first half of the year.”

Meyer also said she hasn’t changed her outlook for the housing market and expects home prices to fall another 5 to 8 percent. She also doesn’t expect the housing market to bottom until the third quarter of next year.

“The housing market is still far from normal,” she said.

Separately, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday that U.S. banking regulators will issue a report next month on foreclosure practices at large financial institutions, following allegations that lenders cut corners to illegally evict homeowners.

Preliminary results of the in-depth review into the practices of the nation’s largest mortgage companies are expected to be released next month, Bernanke said in remarks prepared for delivery to a housing-finance conference in Arlington, Va.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.