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Home prices: up but not enough

By Polyana da Costa · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Home prices increased 0.9 percent in July compared to June, according to the latest Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price index. Try using that to cheer up a home seller whose house is worth about 30 percent to 50 percent less than in 2006. 

While home prices have improved slightly for four months in a row, they are still 4.1 percent lower than they were at the same time last year. Compared to the good old days in 2006, home prices are down 31 percent, according to the index, which tracks 20 major U.S. cities.

"While we have now seen four consecutive months of generally increasing prices, we do know that we are still far from a sustained recovery," says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P 500 Index Committee. "Eighteen of the 20 cities and both composites are showing that home prices are still below where they were a year ago."

The modest improvements in prices were expected considering that summer is the best time of the year for home sales. Detroit, where home prices increased about 3.8 percent in July over June, saw the biggest improvement of the 20 cities included in the index, followed by Washington, D.C., with a 2.4 percent increase.

Two of those 20 cities haven't even started to come out of the woods. In Las Vegas, prices declined 0.2 percent in July and in Phoenix, prices were 0.1 percent lower.

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