By Alan Zibel, AP Real Estate Writer

WASHINGTON – Home resales far exceeded expectations last month, surging to the highest level in 2 1/2 years as first-time buyers rushed to take advantage of an expiring tax credit.

The National Association of Realtors says sales rose 10.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.1 million in October, from a downwardly revised pace of 5.54 million in September.

It was the highest sales level since February 2007. Sales, which were nearly 24 percent above last year’s level, had been expected to rise to an annual pace of 5.65 million, according to economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

We’ve seen similar levels of activity here in the Somerset Hills, as you may have noted from the recent closed sales we’ve been reporting here on our blog.

There is currently a 6-to-7 month inventory of homes at most price levels through $1,200,000 or so in our local area. This implies a period of sales price stability.