WASHINGTON, March 18 (Reuters) – U.S. home sales fell more than expected in February as rising mortgage interest rates and a shortage of homes drove early buyers out of the market.
Existing home sales fell 7.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.02 million units last month, the National Association of Real Estate Agents reported last month. While the decline reversed a January gain, sales remained above their pre-pandemic level.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a drop in sales to a rate of 6.10 million units.
Home resales account for the bulk of US home sales and were down 2.4% in February on a year-over-year basis.
Mortgage interest rates soared in February, with the 30-year fixed nearing its highest in three years, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac. Last week it averaged 4.16%, topping 4.0% for the first time in May 2019.
Mortgage rates are set to rise further after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its official interest rate by 25 basis points, the first hike in more than three years, and laid out an aggressive plan to bring borrowing costs down. restrictive levels by 2023.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)