While sales were on track to set an annual record at more than six million homes in 2003, numbers were down in all four regions of the country, the NAR said.
Purchases fell 2.7 percent in the Northeast, 9.2 percent in the West and 4.9 percent in the Midwest. In the South, the largest market for home sales, purchases dropped 2.7 percent.
The inventory of homes on the market rose in October to 4.6 months' supply -- the highest level since July -- from 4.3 months' supply in September.
The median home price rose to $172,400 from $171,800. Median sales prices are not adjusted for seasonal variation.