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Home-Price Growth Heats Up in August

Economic Indicators Dow Jones Newswires

Home-price growth accelerated in August, as a lack of inventory and low interest rates helped push prices to near-record levels. 

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The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices covering the entire nation rose 5.3% in the 12 months ended in August, a small jump from a 5% increase reported in July. 

The 10-city index gained 4.3%, up from 4.1% last month, and the 20-city index gained 5.1% year-over-year, up slightly from a 5% increase in July. 

The strong rise in prices comes amid other signs the housing recovery is gaining strength. Single-family housing starts rose 8.1% in September, according to the Commerce Department, although the rate of 783,000 remains well below the historical average of more than 1 million annual starts. 

Likewise, the share of first-time buyers rose to 34% in September, the highest since July 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

The national Case-Shiller index is now just a hair away from the record high set a decade ago in July 2006. 

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"Supported by continued moderate economic growth, home prices extended recent gains," said David Blitzer, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices. 

The hottest markets in the country have shifted away from California and toward the northeast, as many buyers priced out of the Silicon Valley area flee to secondary tech hubs. Portland reported an 11.7% year-over-year gain, Seattle showed an 11.4% gain, and Denver had an 8.8% increase in home prices. 

Ten cities reported greater price increases in the year ending August versus the year ending July. 

Month-over-month prices the U.S. Index rose 0.5% in August before seasonal adjustment, while the 10-city and the 20-city index increased 0.4% from July to August. 

After seasonal adjustment, the national index rose 0.6% month-over-month, the 10-city and 20-City indexes rose 0.2% month-over month. 

Write to Laura Kusisto at laura.kusisto@wsj.com