The pace of sales of existing home in the U.S. rose 5.1 percent in February to a 4.72 million-unit annual rate, rebounding from the previous month's drop, while home prices fell again the National Association of Realtors said on Monday.

Economists polled by Reuters were expecting home resales to slip to a 4.45 million-unit pace, from the 4.49 million rate initially reported for January, which was unrevised. February's sales increase was the largest since July 2003.

The inventory of existing homes for sale rose 5.2 percent to 3.80 million from the 3.61 million overstock reported in January. The median national home price declined 15.5 percent from a year ago to $165,400. That was the second biggest decline on record.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)