A home currently under construction at the Winthrop subdivision in Riverview, Fla., in October 2012. (Photo: Chris O'Meara, AP)
WASHINGTON -- Home prices rose in August in nearly all U.S.
cities, and many of the markets hit hardest during the crisis are
starting to show sustained gains. The increases are the latest evidence
of a steady housing recovery.
The Standard & Poor's/Case
Shiller index reported Tuesday that national home prices increased 2% in
August compared with the same month a year ago. That's the third
straight increase and at faster pace than in July.
The report also
said that prices rose in August from July in 19 of the 20 cities
tracked by the index. Prices had risen in all 20 cities in the previous
Cities that have suffered some of the worst price
declines during the housing crisis are starting to come back. Prices in
Las Vegas rose 0.9%, the first year-over-year gain since January 2007.
Prices in Phoenix are 18.8% higher in August than a year ago. Home
values in Tampa and Miami have also posted solid increases over the
Seattle was the only city to report a monthly decline.
Still, prices there fell just 0.1% in August from July and are 3.4%
higher than a year ago.
"The sustained good news in home prices
over the past five months makes us optimistic for continued in the
housing market," said David Blitzer, chairman of the Case-Shiller index.
steady increase in prices, along with the lowest mortgage rates in
decades, has helped many home markets slowly rebound nearly six years
after the housing bubble burst.
Rising home prices encourage more
people to put their homes on the market. They may also entice would-be
buyers to purchase homes before prices rise further.
S&P/Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It
measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a
three-month moving average. The August figures are the latest available.
The figures aren't seasonally adjusted, so some of the gains in August reflect the benefit of the summer buying season.
Stan Humphries, chief economist at the housing website Zillow.com, expects the monthly price index to decline later this year.
doesn't mean the housing recovery has been derailed," Humphries said.
"This is exactly what bouncing along bottom looks like."
Other recent reports show that the housing market is improving, albeit from depressed levels.
builders started construction on new homes and apartments at the
fastest pace in more than four years last month. They also requested the
most building permits in four years, a sign that many are confident
that home sales gains will continue.
Home building is still far
below the pace that economists say is consistent with a healthy housing
market. New-home sales jumped last month to the highest annual pace in
the past two-and-a-half years. Sales of previously occupied homes dipped
in September but have risen steadily in the past year.