By Steve Goldstein
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The National Association of Realtors on Monday said sales rose 1.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million from 4.9 million in September. Economists polled by MarketWatch had anticipated a decline to an annual rate of 4.8 million in October. The September figure was marginally downward revised by 100,000. The median price of homes dropped 4.7% from year-ago levels to $162,500. Inventories declined 2.2% to 3.3 million, reflecting 8.0 months of supply at current sales rates. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR, said at a press conference that the increase in home sales was nothing to get excited by but pointed to the progress on inventories as a hopeful sign.