Home prices rise for fifth month in a row
Average home price for 20 major cities jumps 0.9%
The housing market picked up more momentum in August, as the average home price for 20 major cities jumped 0.9 percent, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index
The increase marked the fifth consecutive month of gains for the index with all but one city, Seattle, recording month-over-month price increases.
"The sustained good news in home prices over the past five months makes us optimistic for continued recovery in the housing market," said David Blitzer, spokesman for S&P.
The Case-Shiller report is one of many gauges of housing market health that has turned upbeat in recent months. New and existing home sales have been stronger, inventory of homes for sale has fallen and developers have stepped up building activity.
Slow improvement in the national economy has also boosted the housing market, as have record low mortgage rates. The rates for a 30-year loan have stayed below 3.7 percent since May. Combined with home prices that are still about a third less than they were when they hit their peak, these record-low rates have made homebuying very affordable.
Of the cities S&P's index covers, Phoenix has roared back the fastest, with a whopping 18.8 percent year-over-year gain in August. That marks the fourth month in a row of double-digit price hikes. Detroit prices rose 7.6 percent over the past 12 months and Miami's grew 6.7 percent.
Among the three cities to have year-over-year losses, Atlanta recorded the biggest decrease in home values, with prices down 6.1 percent. New York was down 2.3 percent and Chicago fell 1.6 percent.
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