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Rising prices improve confidence

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Friday, August 2, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

Home prices continued their upward trend, rising 12.2 percent in May compared to a year earlier, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index. Prices have been steadily increasing every month since June 2012, and May saw the largest year-over-year increase since March 2006.

Nationally, the index, which measures the 20 largest metro markets, is still down 24.2 percent from where it was in June 2006, the peak of the housing bubble. But two cities -- Dallas and Denver -- surpassed their peak prices. Las Vegas, Phoenix and Atlanta also were up more than 20 percent from a year earlier.

Urgently feeling a need to go get a house

Far from having deterred buyers, rising mortgage rates appear to have provided a sense of urgency to those who want to find a deal before rates go up even further. Bidding wars in some parts of the country are causing some analysts to worry that we're headed for regional bubbles again.

Or you could stay home and fix it up

The improving housing market is also giving homeowners the confidence to put money toward remodeling projects. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University says builders and contractors are reporting strong activity over the past four quarters and expect continued strengthening into next year.

Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center, said in a release that, "Consumer confidence scores are back to pre-recession levels and since recent homebuyers are traditionally the most active in the home improvement market, the growth in sales of existing homes is providing more opportunities for these improvement projects."

Keep up with your wealth and mortgages, and follow me on Twitter @JudyMartel.

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