A real-estate trade group says sales of existing homes rose by the largest amount in more than five years in September. The data is a possible...

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WASHINGTON — A real-estate trade group says sales of existing homes rose by the largest amount in more than five years in September. The data is a possible glimmer of hope that the housing slump could be starting to bottom out.

The National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales of existing homes nationwide rose by 5.5 percent in September compared to August, the best showing since a 5.6 percent increase in July 2003, during the five-year housing boom.

Even with the gain in sales, prices kept falling. The median sales price has dropped to $191,600, down by 9 percent from a year ago.

While numbers are available for the West region, they include the highly troubled markets of California, Nevada and Arizona, which drag down the entire region and don’t provide an accurate picture of the local resale market.

Likewise, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which tracks local home sales, does not break out sales for existing homes. Overall September sales and prices were down in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties.