New homes sales stall out amid cold weather in February

New home sales stalled out last month as the housing market remained bogged down by bad weather.

Sales fell 3.3 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000, down from 455,000 in January, the slowest pace in five months, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

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New home sales have fallen 1.1 percent in the past 12 months but housing market experts expect the sector to perk up again this spring as temperatures warm up and winter weather dissipates.

The median sales price was $261,800 while the average sales price was $317,500.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 189,000, a 5.2-month supply.

Also on Tuesday, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed that prices made double-digit gains of 13.2 percent in January compared the same period a year ago.

But home prices slipped 0.1 percent in January from December, according to the index. 

Sales of new homes fell in three of four regions, with the biggest drop (32.4%) in the Northeast, which has been hit repeatedly this winter by snowstorms. 

Purchases were down only slightly in the South (1.5%) and fell 15.9 percent in the West. The Midwest, which also has seen its fair share of snow this winter, had a sales increase to 67,000 from 49,000, a 36.7 percent increase.