Sales of newly built, single-family homes were up a hearty 7.8 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 539,000 units, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This marks the highest sales pace since February 2008.

“Most sales activity continues to be among existing home owners who are trading up to new construction and taking advantage of low mortgage rates,” says NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “First-time home buyers remain absent from the market, restricted by tight lending conditions.”

The inventory of new homes for sale was at 210,000 in February, which is a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace.

Regionally, new home sales increased 152.9 percent in the Northeast and 10.1 percent in the South. Sales dropped 6 percent in the West and 12.9 percent in the Midwest.

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