The National Association of Realtors reports sales of previously-owned homes rose 2.1 percent in October.  The pace of existing home sales is about 11 percent above a year ago, but it remains below the more than 5.5 million sales pace that economists consider consistent with a healthy market.  

The realtors' group says Superstorm Sandy delayed some sales in the Northeast. Sales fell 1.7 percent there, the only region to show a decline. It expects that those sales will likely be completed in future months.

Home prices have been rising steadily, though they remain lower than they were six years ago. However, builders broke ground on new homes and apartments at the fastest pace in more than four years in September, and that jump could help boost the economy and hiring.

Many potential home buyers still cannot meet stricter lending standards or produce down payments required by banks.  Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that banks' overly tight lending standards may be preventing sales and holding back the U.S. economy.