US home sales rise modest 1.2 pct. in Feb.; tight inventory and affordability hurt buying

U.S. home sales picked up slightly in February but remain sluggish due to tight inventories, affordability problems and nasty winter weather.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes rose 1.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million, a slight rebound after plunging in January.

The real estate market has hibernated through the first two months of 2015. Strong job growth and relatively low mortgage rates have failed to awaken buyers. Meanwhile, relatively few homes are being listed for sale and builders are mostly catering to the wealthiest slivers of the market. Sales are running below last year's pace of 4.93 million, which represented a 3.1 percent drop from 2013.

Median home prices increased 7.5 percent over the past 12 months to $202,600.