New estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show sales of new single-family homes up 7.8 percent in February from the month before. The sales surge beat economists’ expectations and pushed sales to their highest level since February 2008. At a time when many housing market indicators are showing slower-than-expected activity, the improvement was welcome news. It was also contrary to conventional wisdom. In February, much of the country was impacted by severe winter weather, which many analysts believe responsible for dampened housing activity during the month. But, according to the new sales numbers, February’s gains were largely located in the South and Northeast – the region most heavily battered by snow and frigid temperatures. The Midwest and West both suffered declines from the previous month. Also in the report, the median sales price of new homes sold in February was $275,500; the average sales price was $341,000. With February’s improvement, new home sales are now nearly 25 percent higher than at the same time last year. More here.