New Home Sales Rise 6.1 Percent Despite Higher Mortgage Rates

Americans responded to higher mortgage rates by snapping up new homes in February at the fastest pace since July.

New-home sales rose 6.1 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That sales pace is nearly 13 percent higher than February of last year, a positive sign for the housing market that demand is robust at the start of the spring home-buying season.

Healthy job growth and a recovering economy have pushed up interest in new homes, while the prospect of rising mortgage rates since the November presidential election may have pulled some sales forward.

Builders have ramped up the construction of new homes, which helps meet strong demand and boosts sales. That could provide a slight lift to the broader economy through construction jobs and the consumer spending linked to home purchases.

But demand for homes is still outpacing the construction gains.

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