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U.S. home prices increase by most in nearly 7 years

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Home prices jumped in January, a sign the housing market is gaining momentum as it nears the spring selling season.

Home prices rose 9.7 percent in January from a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by CoreLogic. That's up from an 8.3 percent increase in December and the biggest annual gain since April 2006.

Prices rose in all states except Delaware and Illinois. Prices increased in 92 of the 100 largest metro areas, up from 87 in December.

Home prices rose 0.7 percent in January from December. That's a solid increase, given that sales usually slow during the winter months.

Rising demand combined with fewer available homes is pushing up prices. Sales of previously-owned homes ticked up in January after rising to their highest level in five years in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. At the same time, inventories of homes for sale fell to a 13-year low.

The states with the biggest price gains were Arizona, where prices rose 20.1 percent, followed by Nevada, with 17.4 percent, and Idaho, with 14.9 percent. California and Hawaii rose 14.1 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

The cities with the biggest gains were Phoenix; Los Angeles; Riverside, Calif.; New York; and Atlanta.

With the approach of Spring, a traditional period for house sales, the Western Pennsylvania region is facing a tightening market — with an increase in sales but fewer houses to choose from, according to the West Penn Multi-List, the region's major multiple-listing agency.

“People are taking advantage of the continued low interest rates and entering the housing market,” said George Hackett, president of the multiple-listing agency and head of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services in Pittsburgh.

Trib Total Media staff writer Sam Spatter contributed to this report.

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