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Doug Carroll, USA TODAY4:24 p.m. EDT March 24, 2015

3-26-15New-home sales soared almost 8% in February as a snowy winter month failed to deter buyers as expected.

Sales of single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000, up 7.8% from January, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That dwarfed economists’ median forecast for a 470,000 annual rate and a small monthly decline, according to Action Economics’ survey before the report.

Instead, January’s sales rate also was revised up to 500,000 from 481,000 previously reported.

February’s rate was the highest since February 2008. The last time new-home sales had back-to-back months with rates at or topping 500,000 was in April-May 2008, according to Census Bureau data from Haver Analytics.

Preliminary figures released Tuesday show February sales rates compared with January’s surged 152% in the Northeast, fell 13% in the Midwest, rose 10% in the South and fell 6% in the West. The South and West account for the bulk of the national total.

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