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An “Open House” sign is displayed in the front yard of a home for sale in Columbus, Ohio. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose in October for the first time in seven months, suggesting demand is stabilizing at a lower level as available properties become less scarce.

Contract closings increased from the prior month to an annual rate of 5.22 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That compared with economists’ projections for sales of 5.2 million. The median sales price rose 3.8% from a year earlier, while the inventory of available homes expanded 2.8%, the third straight increase.

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