WASHINGTON — Americans bought homes in October at the briskest pace this year, a sign that the sluggish housing market is turning around.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million.

That’s up from a revised pace of 5.18 million in September. October marked the first month in 2014 when sales increased compared to a year ago, registering a 2.5 percent gain compared to 2013.

Median home prices rose 5.5 percent over the past 12 months to $208,300.