Sales of previously owned homes surged in November, but revisions to data for the last four years showed the housing recession was deeper than previously thought.
The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday existing home sales increased 4 percent month over month to an annual rate of 4.42 million units.
October's sales pace was revised down to a 4.25 million-unit pace. It was previously reported as a 4.97 million-unit rate.
The Realtors group revised down data from 2007 to 2010 to show average annual sales down 14.3 percent at 4.42 million units instead of the previously estimated 5.16 million units.
It said sales troughed at 3.30 million-unit pace in July 2010, rather than 3.86 million, underscoring the depth of the housing market downturn.
Still, the rise in sales last month was the latest to suggest that the housing sector, which triggered the 2007-09 recession, was on the cusp of a recovery. Data on Tuesday showed housing starts scaled a 1-1/2 year high last month.
The housing market is finding its bottom, and that will translate into more growth in GDP and less of a drag on consumer confidence, said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica in Dallas. But we still have a long, long way to go.
The stock market, shrugging off the data, was down, while the dollar extended gains against the euro and prices for U.S. government debt slipped slightly.
The 2.58 million unsold homes on the market in November represented a 7.0 months' supply at last month's sales pace, down from 7.7 months in October and the lowest since February 2007.
That shows the inventory overhang is working its way down and we could eventually see a bottom in prices, said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.
The median sales price rose 2.1 percent from October, but was still down 3.5 percent from a year ago. Given the glut of foreclosed properties hitting the market, analysts believe prices will remain under pressure for months to come.
(Writing by Lucia Mutikani and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Neil Stempleman)