Clouds and sun
64°
Clouds and sun
Hi 64° | Lo 50°

Home Sales at Highest Rate Since 2009

Washington — Existing-home sales rose in February to reach the highest rate in more than three years, another sign of a strengthening housing market, as inventories posted an unusually large gain in the month, a trade group said last week.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday existing home sales rose 0.8 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million, hitting the highest level since November 2009. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a pace of 5.02 million for February, compared with an original estimate of 4.92 million in January. The Realtors’ group on Thursday revised January’s rate up to 4.94 million.

While sales remain below pre-bubble levels, low mortgage rates and an improving jobs picture are supporting demand. Also, rising prices are encouraging activity, luring sellers to place homes on the market.

Inventories rose 9.6 percent in February to 1.94 million existing homes available for sale. The supply of existing homes rose to 4.7 months in February from 4.3 months in January.