Sales of existing homes rose 2.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million for the month of October, the National Association of Realtors announced today

Compared to October 2011, existing home sales are up 10.9%, according to the association, while existing home prices continued their eight-month year-over-year improvement streak, clocking in with a national median for all types of housing of $178,600. 

"Rising home prices have already resulted in a $760 billion growth in home equity during the past year," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. "Given that each percentage point of price appreciation translates into an additional $190 billion in home equity, we could see close to a $1 trillion gain next year." Yun said most transactions were complete by the time Superstorm Sandy hit in Late October, but "we expect an impact on Northeastern home sales in the coming months from a pause and delays in storm-impacted regions." 

Total housing inventory is down 1.4% to 2.14 million existing homes available for sale. This represents a 5.4-month supply at the current sales pace and this is the shortest supply since February 2006's 5.2 months.