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Home Prices Up, Existing-Home Sales Dip

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WASHINGTON (4/24/13)--U.S. home prices increased in the first quarter this year, while existing home sales dipped in March.

U.S. house prices rose 0.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis from January to February, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's monthly House Price Index. For the 12 months ending in February, prices increased 7.1%.

The U.S. index is 13.6% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the October 2004 index level. U.S. house prices have not declined monthly since January 2012.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from January to February ranged from -0.6% in the Middle Atlantic division to 1.7% in the South Atlantic division. The 12-month changes ranged from 1.9% in the Middle Atlantic division to 15.3% in the Pacific division.

Also, March existing-home sales eased from inventory constraints, which continued to pressure home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Total existing-home sales--completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops--declined 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million, from a downwardly revised 4.95 million in February. However, the sales remain 10.3% higher than the 4.46 million-unit pace in March 2012.  

Sales have been above year-ago levels for 21 consecutive months, while prices show 13 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases, NAR said.

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