The sale of new US homes rose unexpectedly in February, a sign the housing recovery was on firm footing despite a slowdown in economic growth.
US new home sales climbed 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000 in February, a seven-year high, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday. January’s sales price was also revised up to 500,000. A median estimate of economists forecast a drop to 470,000 in February.
On a regional level, sales surged 152.9 percent in the Northeast and 10.1 percent in the South. Sales tumbled 12.9 percent in the Midwest and 6 percent in the West, official data showed.
Inclement weather and rising home prices weighed on existing home sales in February. On Monday the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said existing home sales rose only 1.2 percent last month, below estimates calling for a 1.8 percent gain. Sales reached a seasonally adjusted 4.88 million. According to the NAR, the median sales price of an existing home rose at its fastest rate since February of last year.
Mortgage rates edged up slightly in February, but remain very low in historical terms. The average commitment rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.71 percent in February, according to Freddie Mac. Rates averaged 3.78 percent in the week ended March 19.