House prices on the way up, and that's good news

Posted: August 29, 2012

WASHINGTON - U.S. home prices are finally starting to increase consistently.

A gauge of national home prices rose in June compared with the same month last year, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index released Tuesday. The year-over-year increase was the first since September 2010, a year when housing benefited temporarily from a federal home-buying tax credit.

The report also noted that all 20 major metro areas tracked by the S&P/Case Shiller index posted gains in June from May. That's the second straight month in which prices rose in every city measured.

A decline in foreclosures and the lowest mortgage rates in decades have helped some of the cities hardest hit by the housing bust.

The steadiness of the price increases is helping bolster a nascent housing recovery that began earlier this year. Last week, the National Association of Realtors said that sales of previously occupied homes jumped 10 percent in July compared with the same month last year.

And the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 4 percent all year.

As prices rise, more Americans will likely be inclined to put their houses up for sale. That could further energize the market, which has been hampered by a low supply of available homes.

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