The sales rate of existing homes dropped a record 8.6 percent in November, hitting an 11-year low at 4.49 million, according to National Association of Realtors statistics released today, and the sales rate was off 10.6 percent from November 2007.

The median price of resale homes plunged 13.2 percent in November compared to the same month last year — marking the fifth consecutive month of decline. The U.S. median resale home price dropped to $181,300 in November from $208,800 a year earlier.

In a separate announcement today, the Census Bureau reported that the sales rate of new homes dropped 2.9 percent in November and fell 35.3 percent compared to November 2007, with the new-home median price sinking 11.5 percent year-over-year in November.

Sales rates for new and resale homes are based on a projection of a monthly sales total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for typical seasonal fluctuations in sales activity.

The Census Bureau reported this month that housing starts and permits hit record lows in November, based on 50 years of government tracking.

And the National Association of Home Builders reported that segments of a monthly builder confidence index tracking current sales conditions and sales expectations for the next six months hit new record lows this month, while the index segment that gauges traffic of prospective buyers held at a record low.

Earlier this week, the California Building Industry Association reported that a total of 4,544 residential building permits were issued in California metro areas in November, and the total number of building permits issued in the first 11 months of 2008 dropped 42.9 percent compared to the same period last year.

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