Home Prices Increase in Most Major U.S. Cities

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Home prices increase.By Christopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON -- Home prices increased in September in most major U.S. cities, more evidence of a housing recovery that is providing a lift to the fragile economy.

Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller reported Tuesday that its 20-city index of home prices rose 3 percent in September compared with the same month last year. Prices also gained 3.6 percent in the July-September quarter compared with the same quarter in 2011.

Across the nation, prices increased in 18 of 20 cities over the 12-month period. In Phoenix, prices jumped 20.4 percent over that stretch to lead all cities. Prices in Atlanta showed a modest 0.1 percent increase, ending 26 straight consecutive year-over-year declines.

Prices also rose in September from August in 13 cities. Five metro regions posted declines, while two were unchanged.

In Las Vegas, one of the hardest hit during the housing crisis, prices increased 1.4 percent -- the biggest month-over-month gain. Prices rose 1.1 percent in Phoenix and Minneapolis. The largest decline was in Cleveland, where prices fell 0.9 percent.

Monthly prices are not seasonally adjusted, so some of the declines may signal the end of the summer buying period.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Case-Shiller index, said that when adjusting for seasonal factors, only one city showed a decline in September versus two in August. "Despite the seasons, housing continues to improve," Blitzer said.

The 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 September figures are the latest available.

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Homes Going for Close to the Median Home Price
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Home Prices Increase in Most Major U.S. Cities

Location: Portland, Ore.
Price: $184,900
Beds/baths: 3/3
Sq. ft.: 1,405

This beautiful condo has sweeping, open spaces -- so much so that you'll feel like you're living in your own detached single-family home! The homeowners association fees have been reduced, according to the listing, and the home juts up against the vast greenery of Forest Park. And not to forget location, location, location: It's only 10 minutes to the downtown area.

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Location: Dallas
Price: $179,900
Beds/baths: 4/3
Sq. ft.: 2,450

Look how much house you can get in Dallas for $4,000 less than the national median home sales price! You're getting almost double the square footage as in the Portland home. This spacious pad has been updated, the listing says, and includes a tiled kitchen, large backyard and spacious patio.

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Location: Louisville, Ky.
Price: $185,000
Beds/baths: 3/2
Sq. ft.: 2,000+

It "starts with the curb appeal on this professionally landscaped corner lot," the listing says. There's a finished basement with an extra bedroom and bathroom if you need more living space. The home has a huge backyard with two patios, a storage shed and a privacy fence. Inside, there's an open, flowing floor plan.

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Location: New York
Price: $189,999
Beds/baths: 2/2
Sq. ft.: 1,100

Hey, it's New York. While prices around the national median home price might buy you some pretty significant homes in a lot of cities around the country, that can't necessarily be said for the Big Apple. But still, this co-op apartment is a pretty good deal for what's available at this price point in Manhattan. It has a decent size with open rooms, and it's in an elevator building -- something not to be taken for granted in New York City! The living room has been converted to include a smaller room that can be used as a third bedroom or office.

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Location: Detroit
Price: $183,900
Beds/baths: 5/3
Sq. ft.: 3,000

Detroit was one of the cities hardest hit by the housing bust, and prices have taken an alarmingly steep dive. Of course, that's not a bad thing for homebuyers. For the national median home price, you can practically buy a mansion in Detroit. This spacious brick Tudor is "move-in ready," according to the listing. The three-floor home has a living room with fireplace and a library with built-ins. There's a finished rec room with a wet bar, a "dance area" and laundry facilities. There is one little catch: Some of the interiors may need updating.

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Location: Los Angeles
Price: $185,000
Beds/baths: 2/1
Sq. ft.: 676

Recently refurbished, this single-family home has a kitchen with gorgeous granite countertops, an updated bathroom and a large lot with front and rear access to parking. There's also a partially covered garage.

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Location: Tampa, Fla.
Price: $184,900
Beds/baths: 3/2
Sq. ft.: 1,404

With a separate living and dining room and a den/office, this home is perfect for a first-time buyer, the listing says. The roof is fairly new, and the backyard is completely fenced in for ultimate privacy.

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Location: Commerce City, Colo.
Price: $185,000
Beds/baths: 3/3
Sq. ft.: 3,138

A "perfect starter home," the listing says, this house has an open floor plan, a main-floor office and a large kitchen. The home is owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, so the buyer must take it as-is.

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Steady increases in home prices have helped drive a modest recovery in the housing market. Rising prices encourage more potential buyers to come off the sidelines and purchase homes. And more people may put their homes on the market as they gain confidence that they can sell at a good price.

Higher home prices can also make homeowners feel wealthier and more likely to spend more. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

A big reason for the rebound is that the excess supply of homes that built up before the housing crisis has finally thinned out. The number of previously occupied homes available for sale has fallen to a 10-year low. The inventory of new homes is also near the lowest level since 1963.

At the same time, more people are looking to buy or rent a home after living with relatives or friends during and immediately after the Great Recession.

Those trends are also pushing up home sales and construction. Sales of previously occupied homes are near five-year highs, excluding temporary spikes in 2009 and 2010 when a homebuyer tax credit boosted purchases.

Builders, meanwhile, are more optimistic that the recovery will endure. A measure of their confidence rose to the highest level in 6½ years this month. And builders broke ground on new homes and apartments at the fastest pace in more than four years last month.

See also:
U.S. Cities With the Most Vacant Homes

Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Battle Brews in Washington as 'Fiscal Cliff' Looms


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