WASHINGTON -- Home prices rose in August in half of major cities measured by a private survey, a sign that prices are stabilizing in some hard-hit portions of the country.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index showed Tuesday that prices increased in August from July in 10 of the 20 cities tracked. That marked the fifth straight month that at least half of the cities in the survey showed gains.
The biggest price increases were in Washington, Chicago and Detroit. The greatest declines were in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Over the past 12 months, prices have fallen in all but two cities -- Detroit and Washington.
Analysts warn that prices are certain to fall again once banks resume millions of foreclosures that have been delayed because of a yearlong government investigation into mortgage lending practices.
The index, which covers half of all U.S. homes, measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The August data are the latest available.
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Home prices have stabilized in coastal cities over the past six months, helped by a rush of spring buyers and investors. But this year, home prices in many cities, including Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa, have reached their lowest points since the housing bust more than four years ago.
Sales of previously occupied homes are on pace to match last year's dismal figures -- the worst in 13 years. Sales of new homes fell to a six-month low in August and this year could be the worst since the government began keeping records a half century ago.
Housing is a key reason why the economy continues to struggle more than two years after the recession officially ended. Foreclosures and short sales -- when a lender accepts less for a home than what is owed on a mortgage -- makes up about 30 percent of all home sales last month, up from about 10 percent in past years. The large number of unsold homes and foreclosures are sending prices lower and hurting sales.
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This Italian villa, built in 1924, is available for the first time in 30 years -- and for $9.5 million less than its original ask. The 7.39 acre estate offers coastal and valley panoramas. Features include a pool, guesthouse, tennis court, Japanese garden and three gated entrances.
Exposed beams and glass doors, leading to a porch with coastal views, add luster to this ornate interior.
Location: Corona Del Mar, Calif.
Price: $17.995 million
Sq. Ft.: 7,251
This soft contemporary presides majestically over coastal cliffs. Walls of glass give the panoramas full advantage while three stories of outdoor living go even further to celebrate the residence's stunning location. But as exceptional as this property is, the owner may have asked a little too much at first -- or more than just a little: The home is $10 million cheaper than originally listed.
Location: Kihei, Hawaii
Price: $17 million
Sq. Ft.: 2,337
The fact that $17 million brings you just two bedrooms in the case of this stunner speaks to how expensive Hawaii beachfront really is. And just think: Before the home's $5 million price cut, two bedrooms here cost significantly more.
Location: Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Price: $15.995 million
Sq. Ft.: 17,015
Counting the residence's guesthouses, this property offers 35,000 square feet of covered space. Throw in the 21-car garages, and you've got to wonder: Was the original owner playing sultan? If so, the act's up -- this home has been foreclosed on. Recently, its handler cut the price by $2 million.
The home boasts high-tech security and sound equipment along with a 13-seat mahogany theater, solar-heated pool and solar-electric generator. There are also two swimming pools, including the one pictured at left.