These sales counts are based on closings, so the contracts were likely signed at the end of December and throughout January, when mortgage rates had fallen sharply. Sales of previously owned homes rose 14.5% in February compared with January, according to a seasonally adjusted count by the National Association of Realtors . The relative drop caused a jump in sales of newly built homes, before rates jumped back toward 7% in February. That lower median price could be a sign that homes on the more affordable end of the market are selling. At a recent open house in Cleveland, Ohio, home shopper Katie Berardi said higher mortgage rates have had an impact on what she and her husband can afford.