Sales of previously owned homes rose in October while the supply of homes for sale sank to its lowest in nearly a decade.

Existing home sales rose 2.1% from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million units, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. Sales in October rose 10.9% from a year earlier.

The number of previously owned homes listed for sale fell to 2.14 million, the lowest since December 2002 and an inventory that would take 5.4 months to draw down at the current rate, the shortest supply in nearly seven years.

Most home sales during the month took place before Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Northeast.

"Home sales continue to trend up and most October transactions were completed by the time the storm hit, but the growing demand with limited inventory is pressuring home prices in much of the country," Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, said in a news release. "We expect an impact on Northeastern home sales in the coming months from a pause and delays in storm-impacted regions."

The median home price was $178,600, up 11.1% from a year earlier.

Sales of distressed homes made up 24% of sales in October, the same as September. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20% below market in August, while short sales sold for 14% below market, on average.

A home spent a median 71 days on the market in October, roughly the same as in September, but down from 96 days in October 2011.

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