Sales of existing homes reversed direction in February after sliding for two consecutive months. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said completed sales transactions of pre-owned single-family houses, condos, townhomes, and cooperative apartments were up 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million compared to 5.380 million in January. After last month’s increase, sales are now 1.1 percent above a year ago. Sizeable sales increases in the South and West offset declines in the Northeast and Midwest.

The February number fell on the high end of analyst’s expectations. Those polled by Econoday had expected sales to be in the range of 5.300 million to 5.620 million, with a consensus of 5.240 million.