US home prices rise most in seven years

Sales of previously occupied homes rose in August to a seasonally adjusted 5.5 million annual pace, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s a healthy level and the highest in more than six years.

There are signals that the housing market has been recovering over the past year, helped by steady job growth, low mortgage rates and relatively low prices.

Prices in 20 major U.S. cities increased 12.4% in July compared to the same month last year, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index. It showed that all 20 cities measured by the report posted year-over-year gains for the third straight month.
And in 15 cities, prices rose in March from February. That’s up from only 11 in the previous month. The monthly figures aren’t seasonally adjusted and may reflect the beginning of the spring buying season.

Rising prices also encourage more would-be buyers to purchase homes, before prices rise further.

The Case-Shiller index coincides with other reports this month that signal continued strength and price appreciation in the housing market.

The median price climbed 13.5 percent, the seventh consecutive month that property values advanced more than 10 percent year over year.

Rising mortgage rates, which are up nearly a percentage point since May, could ultimately test buyers’ willingness to pay more. That may have accelerated some purchases from buyers who had initially planned to buy later this year, but it has made other buyers more hesitant.

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