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Home prices in February show solid rise

Tight housing market cited; Toledo had nearly 8% jump


U.S. home prices rose in February from a year earlier at a solid pace, suggesting that a tight supply of homes for sale is boosting prices despite slowing sales.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose in February from a year earlier at a solid pace, suggesting that a tight supply of available homes is boosting prices despite slowing sales.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that prices for existing homes rose 12.2 percent in February from a year ago. That was up slightly from January’s year-over-year pace of 12 percent.

On a month-to-month basis, prices in February rose 0.8 percent from January. But CoreLogic’s month-to-month prices aren’t adjusted for seasonal patterns, such as winter weather, which can depress sales.

Snowstorms, rising prices, and higher mortgage rates combined to reduce home sales in February to their lowest level in 19 months.

In Toledo, CoreLogic said home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 7.9 percent in February compared with February, 2013.

Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased by 6.3 percent in February, 2014, compared with February, 2013.

Those numbers conflict with data released in early March by the Toledo Board of Realtors, which said the average sales price in Lucas and Wood counties was $94,037 in February, down 8 percent from the same month last year. The median price of $66,250 was up 1 percent.

The board’s numbers include only houses sold by Realtors.

Nationally, a tight supply is helping boost prices even as sales slow. Sales fell 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.6 million in February from January, the National Association of Realtors said last month. That sales pace would exhaust the number of available homes in 5.2 months, the Realtors’ said — below the six-month supply typically available in healthy markets.

The states with the biggest price gains in the past year were: California, where prices rose 19.8 percent, followed by Nevada, 18.5 percent, and Georgia, 14.2 percent. No states posted a drop in home prices.

Prices in Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota and Texas reached a record high in February. An additional 22 states are within 10 percent of their previous peaks, CoreLogic says.

Nationwide, average home prices remain 16.9 percent below the peak reached in April, 2006, at the height of the housing bubble. Home sales and construction faltered over the winter, partly because harsh weather discouraged some Americans from venturing out to house-hunt.

Most economists think the housing recovery could pick up once the spring buying season begins, but at a slower pace than last year.

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