http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,22840723-31037,00.html SALES of existing homes in the United States fell for the eighth consecutive month in October and prices posted a record plunge amid stubborn housing woes, industry figures show. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said sales of existing single-family homes and apartments fell 1.2 per cent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.97 million units in October, a nine-year low. That was a drop from a downwardly revised 5.03-million unit pace in September. The October decline was slightly weaker than economists' consensus forecast of a pace of 5.00 million units. On a 12-month basis, the sales pace stumbled by 20.7 per cent. NAR said the national median home price fell to 207,800 dollars in October, down 5.1 per cent from October 2006, the steepest drop on record. "Lingering effects of the credit crunch were a drag on sales but the mortgage situation has improved significantly," the NAR said. The woes of the housing market stem largely from tightening credit due to a crisis in subprime mortgages, where loans were given to homebuyers with poor credit histories. "As noted last month, temporary mortgage problems were peaking back in August when many of the sales closed in October were being negotiated," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yunhe said. "Mortgage availability has improved as evidenced by much lower mortgage interest rates and a sharp jump in FHA (Federal Housing Administration) endorsements for home purchases." The glut of existing homes for sale rose 1.9 per cent in October to 4.45 million units, which represents a 10.8-month supply at the current sales pace. That was the highest monthly supply on record since the group started tracking this data in 1999. The Federal Reserve has lowered its federal funds rate by three quarters of a point in two moves since September in a bid ease a credit crunch linked to the housing slump. Many analysts said the mixed NAR data showed conditions would remain bleak for some time. "Declining home sales and rising inventories are clear indications that the housing market is nowhere near bottom," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors. "With inventories so high, look for prices to fall even further, even if sales pick up." Marie-Pierre Ripert, US economist at IXIS Corporate and Investment Bank, also said the correction has yet to run its course. "This excess supply suggests that the downward adjustment in sales and prices is far from over," she said. Sales of single-family homes were unchanged in October, holding an annual rate of 4.37 million units, while the median price was 205,700 dollars, down 6.3 per cent from October 2006.