Existing U.S. home sales fell 0.9 percent in February month-to-month, but rose over the past 12 months, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
The trade group said sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops rose 8.8 percent from a year earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million in the month.
The mixed data shows, "The market is trending up unevenly, with record high consumer buying power and sustained job gains giving buyers the confidence they need to get into the market," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
"Although relatively unusual, there will be rising demand for both rental space and homeownership this year. The great suppression in household formation during the past four years was unsustainable, and a pent-up demand could burst forth from the improving economy," he said.
NAR said sales of existing homes fell 3.3 percent in the Northeast, but rose 1 percent in the Midwest. In the South, sales rose 0.6 percent, while in the West sales fell 3.2 percent.
The average median price for an existing home was $157,100 in the month, 0.1 percent above February 2011.
The trade group said at the end of February inventory rose 4.3 percent to 2.43 million existing homes on the market, which is a 6.4 month supply at the current rate of sales -- an increase from the 6-month supply at the end of January.