Business Briefs Oct. 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Sales of existing homes plummet
The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell 8 percent in September, the largest decline to show up in records dating to 1999. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 5.04 million existing homes was also the slowest pace on record.

The median price fell to $211,700 in September, down by 4.2 percent from the sales price a year ago. It was the biggest price drop since last October and marked the 13th time out of the past 14 months that the year-over-year sales price has decreased.

CALIFORNIA

Microsoft invests $240M in Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO – Rapidly rising Internet star Facebook Inc. has sold a 1.6 percent stake to Microsoft Corp. for $240 million, spurning a competing offer from online search leader Google Inc.

The deal announced Wednesday after several weeks of negotiation values Palo Alto-based Facebook at $15 billion – less than four years after Mark Zuckerberg started the online social networking site in his Harvard University dorm room.

Microsoft also will sell Internet ads for Facebook as the site expands outside the United States, broadening an existing marketing relationship that began last year.