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US existing-home sales recover in February

Existing-home sales in the U.S. bounced back in February from a two-month decline despite continuing inventory shortage and faster price growth, the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, said.

Total sales rose 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in February from an unrevised 5.38 million in in the previous month.

Sales now stand 1.1% higher than a year earlier. The median existing-home price for all housing types for the month stood at $241,700, up 5.9% from a year ago.

Total housing inventory climbed 4.6% to 1.59 million at the end of February, but remained 8.1% lower year over year, down for the 33rd straight month. Unsold inventory was at 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.8 months a year ago.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said higher existing-home sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market rebound from a two-month slump.

However, he said affordability continues to be a pressing issue given the price growth. "Even as seasonal inventory gains helped boost sales last month, home prices especially in the West shot up considerably."