But the results from KB Home came on the same day as a weaker than expected report on new home sales in February. The government said new homes sold at an annualized pace of 313,000 during the month, down 1.6% from the month prior.
It was the latest in a string of mixed reports this week on existing home sales and new home construction in February. Bucking the trend, a report on building permits was the strongest in more than three years.
The data suggest the housing market "was just kind of OK in February," said McGrath.
Looking ahead, analysts are eager to see how home sales develop during the spring, the peak season for home buying.
Some economists say the housing market is poised to rebound on historically low mortgage rates, falling prices and the improving job market.
"Future sales look promising," said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities.
While he cautioned that "more healing needs to be done," Bullard estimated that new home sales could rise 12% in 2012, which would be the first annual increase in seven years.