WASHINGTON -- rose in August in half of major cities measured by a private survey, a sign that prices are stabilizing in some hard-hit portions of the country.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index showed Tuesday that prices increased in August from July in 10 of the 20 cities tracked. That marked the fifth straight month that at least half of the cities in the survey showed gains.
The biggest price increases were in Washington, Chicago and Detroit. The greatest declines were in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Over the past 12 months, prices have fallen in all but two cities -- Detroit and Washington.
Analysts warn that prices are certain to fall again once banks resume millions of foreclosures that have been delayed because of a yearlong government investigation into mortgage lending practices.
The index, which covers half of all U.S. homes, measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The August data are the latest available.
Sales of previously occupied homes are on pace to match last year's dismal figures -- the worst in 13 years. Sales of new homes fell to a six-month low in August and this year could be the worst since the government began keeping records a half century ago.
Housing is a key reason why the economy continues to struggle more than two years after the recession officially ended. Foreclosures and short sales -- when a lender accepts less for a home than what is owed on a mortgage -- makes up about 30 percent of all home sales last month, up from about 10 percent in past years. The large number of unsold homes and foreclosures are sending prices lower and hurting sales.
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