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Home prices rise in most cities as markets recover

CHICAGO -- Prices for single-family homes rose in 81 percent of U.S. cities as the property market extends a recovery from the worst crash since the 1930s.

The median sales price increased in the third quarter from a year earlier in 120 of 149 metropolitan areas measured, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said in a report Wednesday. In the second quarter, 110 areas had gains.

Values are climbing after a six-year slump as buyers compete for a shrinking supply of properties listed for sale.

U.S. home prices jumped 5 percent in September from a year earlier, the biggest 12-month increase since July 2006, CoreLogic Inc. (NYSE: CLGX), an Irvine, Calif.-based real estate data provider, said Tuesday.

“The housing recovery still faces a number of potential headwinds,” Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics Ltd. in London, said in a note to clients after CoreLogic’s report was released.

“But our central case is that tight supply conditions will mean that house prices will continue to rise steadily next year,” Diggle said.

At the end of the third quarter, 2.32 million existing homes were available for sale, 20 percent fewer than a year earlier, according to the NAR.

Short sales

The national median price for an existing single-family home was $186,100 in the third quarter, up 7.6 percent from the same period last year, the Realtors said.

Foreclosures and short sales, in which the price is less than the mortgage balance, accounted for 23 percent of third-quarter deals, down from 30 percent a year earlier.

The share of all-cash home purchases fell to 27 percent in the third quarter from 29 percent a year earlier.

Investors, who make up the bulk of cash purchasers and compete with first-time buyers, accounted for 17 percent of all transactions, down from 20 percent a year earlier.

The best-performing metro area was Phoenix, where prices increased 35 percent from a year earlier.

Prices rose 28 percent in the Cape Coral, Fla., area, and 27 percent in Akron, Ohio.

The Raleigh, N.C., area had the biggest decline, with the median selling price falling 16 percent in the quarter.

It was followed by York, Pa., with an 9.4 percent decrease; and Binghamton, N.Y., with a 6.6 percent drop.

A survey by Fannie Mae (OTC: FNMA), the nation’s biggest mortgage finance company, showed Americans expect home prices to increase an average of 1.7 percent in the next 12 months.

The share of respondents who said they expect home prices to decrease fell to 10 percent last month, down 13 percentage points from a year earlier and the lowest level since the monthly survey began in June 2010, Fannie Mae said Wednesday.

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