Sales of new single-family houses jumped 8.9% above the revised February annual rate to a seasonally adjusted 1.228 million, the Commerce Dept. said today. Mortgage rates remain at record lows, but Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan indicated last week that rates will go up eventually.

The region showing the strongest purchasing activity is the South, with 613,000. The West reported 349,000 sales, followed by the Midwest and Northeast, with 188,000 and 78,000, respectively.

The average house sold for $260,000, while the seasonally adjusted estimate number of new houses for sale at the end of March was 378,000.

According to The Wall Street Journal Online, the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 5.84% last week, up from 5.77% the week before.