Existing home sales bounced 1.2 percent higher in February to a 4.88 million annual pace which is above January’s 4.82 million but still isn’t that strong. The year, in fact, opens with the two weakest months for existing home sales since April last year. The year-on-year rate, however, is showing strength, at plus 4.7 percent in February for the strongest reading since October 2013.

The data are split between single-family homes and condos with the single-family component in front which is encouraging, up 1.4 percent to a 4.10 million pace and a year-on-year gain of 5.9 percent. The condo component was unchanged in February at 0.540 million for a year-on-year minus 3.6 percent.

The South is by far the largest region for total sales and rose 1.9 percent in February for a year-on-year plus 6.0 percent. The West and Midwest are the next largest regions with the Midwest unchanged in the month and up 4.9 percent year-on-year with the West up 1.9 percent in February for a year-on-year gain of 2.8 percent. February sales fell 6.5 percent in the Northeast, which lags in the distance in size. The year-on-year rate for the Northeast is plus 3.6 percent.

Existing homes on the market are still on the scarce side, at 4.6 months of supply and unchanged from January. A year ago, the rate was 4.9 months. Prices firmed in the latest report, up 2.5 percent to a median $202,600 and a respectable 7.5 percent ahead of a year ago.

The housing market is soft though there are some signs of life in this report including the month’s gain for single-family sales.