PHOENIX ( DQNews) --Phoenix region home sales in February remained slow by historical standards but they still rose to the highest point for that month in three years and posted a normal gain over January as already-robust demand from absentee and cash-only buyers grew. The median sale price inched up from the month before and was the same as a year ago, marking the first time since January 2007 that the overall median didn't drop on a year-over-year basis, a real estate information service reported. Among the other signs of price stability last month: The $131,900 median paid for existing, single-family detached houses was 5.5% higher than a year ago - the first time that median increased year-over-year since March 2007. The median price paid per square foot for those resale houses increased 5.8% from a year ago, marking the first annual gain since October 2006, according to MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records. The steadiness and gains in various median sale prices mainly reflect a firming of prices across more submarkets, as well as a continuing reduction in recent months of lower-cost foreclosure resales. In addition, last month's overall median sale price got a boost from a shift toward more sales of new homes, which tend to sell for more than the typical resale home, and a small increase in the portion of total home sales above $200,000. The future course of prices will depend largely on the economy's ability to gain traction and reduce job losses, as well as the magnitude and timing of future foreclosures and the housing market's reaction to less government stimulus. A total of 6,824 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the combined Maricopa-Pinal counties metropolitan area in February, up 9.6% from the month before and up 13.0% from a year earlier. A rise in sales between January and February is normal for the season, with that gain averaging 9.4% since 1994, when DataQuick's complete Phoenix-area statistics begin. February's total sales were the highest for that month since February 2007, when 8,940 homes sold. Total resales - houses and condos combined - were the highest for a February since 2006.