LOS ANGELES – Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose in November but remained considerably weak when compared with the brisk pace set last year, when tax credits for buyers fueled the market.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million units. That was a 5.6 percent increase from October but a 27.9 percent decrease from November 2009, when buyers were rushing to complete deals to qualify for the federal tax credit.

Several economists have said they expect the U.S. housing market to remain constrained by scaled-back bank lending and the poor economy dampening prospects for buyers.

The national median home price was $170,600 in November, up 0.4 percent from November 2009. Sales of distressed homes accounted for 33 percent of sales in November.

Total housing inventory at the end of November fell 4 percent to 3.71 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.5-month supply at the current pace, a decline from the 10.5-month supply in October.